Global solar installations to hit three-year high in 2014, say IHS


Global solar installations will rise by 18% in 2014, hitting a three-year high of 41 GW and generating more than $86 billion in revenue, say analyst firm IHS.

Next year will mark the first upturn in a two-year slowdown for the industry, predict the analysts, who also confirmed that 2013 was on track to meet the predicted 35 GW installed. For 2013, an increase of 13% on last year is expected, which is below the 15% growth between 2011 and 2012.

Although next year will still fall some way short of the 35% market growth observed in 2011, the projected $86 billion revenue generated in 2014 runs 2011 close, when that figure reached $89 billion.

"PV installations will accelerate in 2014 driven by low system prices, the creation of new markets in emerging regions and the continued growth in major countries such as the U.S., Japan and China," said IHS’s senior research director for solar, Ash Sharma. "As the industry’s recovery accelerates and market revenue returns to near record levels, solar manufacturers will leave behind the turmoil of recent years and enjoy improved business conditions."

Evolving European market

IHS predict that all of the major solar regions will return healthy growth figures in 2014. Europe’s solar market plummeted dramatically in 2012 and is on course for further falls in 2013. But next year should see a significant and decisive upswing for the industry, marked, believes Sharma, by the emergence of key new players.

"While PV installations will continue to stagnate or fall in established European markets like Germany or Italy, rapid growth is forecase in emerging countries in the region, such as Turkey, Poland, Ukraine and Russia," noted Sharma. "The growth in the developing PV nations will more than offset the poor conditions in the large, well-established solar markets."

Despite a return to growth, Europe will further relinquish ground on the global scale. Asia and the Americas will grab more of the market share, limiting Europe to just 29% of the industry – a striking fall from the 57% high of 2012. Conversely, Asia will account for 48% of the solar market by the end of 2014, up from 29% currently.

2013: ending on a high

The upturn in the global solar market has already begun, believe IHS. The fourth quarter of 2013 will post strong figures, boasting the highest number of quarterly installations in two years – a total of 9.8 GW for Q4, up from 8.5 GW for the middle two quarters and 7 GW for the first quarter.

The global solar industry has traditionally enjoyed strong final quarters, and this year will be no different, note IHS, driven by incentive cuts designed to come into play at the beginning of a new year.

China will drive the largest share of this end-of-year push, installing more than 2 GW of solar power between now and December 31st thanks to improved incentives and recently announced tax breaks.