Researchers at IHS have predicted double-digit growth for the solar industry in 2014, but warned that global forecasts of 55 GW installed may prove optimistic.
The IHS Solar PV Demand Tracker, published today, states that despite several counter viewpoints predicting PV installations to reach as high as 55 GW next year, IHS's own quarterly updates puts that figure at a more modest 40-42 GW.
However, such a figure would still represent a healthy 12 months for the global PV industry next year. The Demand Tracker report reveals that total PV installations for 2013 are likely to reach 35 GW, which is in-keeping with the predictions made by IHS in March this year. The analysts are also confident that their approximate 40 GW range for installations next year is accurate.
With global growth in PV estimated at 15% for next year, IHS were careful to issue a couple of warning shots for the industry, with 2014 likely to have to traverse several risky situations.
Chief among those is IHS' forecast that CHina will install around 9.5 GW of PV next year, which is some way below the national target of 12 GW, reported and backed up elsewhere by other solar industry watchers.
The reason given for this apparent shortfall in Chinese installations is "due to a lack of framework to support the move towards distributed generation and away from utility-scale projects," the report states. IHS does not believe that 8 GW of distributed PV – which will form the bulk of the projected 12 GW target – is feasible. Relatively high costs, grid-connection uncertainties and a lack of appropriate rooftop space will also present barriers to China's PV expansion plans next year.
In Japan, IHS sees both positives and negatives. The recent METI investigation into unbuilt PV projects in the country will, IHS believes, lead to a number of those projects proposed never seeing the light of day. Equally, the imminent expiration of Japan's generous FIT scheme will lead to further uncertainty, while the non-residential FIT is likely to be cut by up to 20% in 2014. Further exacerbating the situation for solar in the Japanese government's recent u-turn on greenhouse gas emissions.
The oft-touted potential lying untapped in the emerging markets will take longer to be realized than many think, say IHS. For 2013, the emerging markets are on course to add 5.4 GW of PV power. In 2014, that figure will rise modestly to 7.7 GW – an encouraging sign of growth but a sober warning that new markets all operate differently and install at different rates.
"Despite these risks," the report concludes, "we remain positive about the solar industry with double-digit growth forecast for 2014 and a return to improved profitability for many companies.
"We expect 40 GW is certainly achievable, but do not expect any possibility of demand reaching 55 GW. Based on the bottoms-up analysis of more than 100 countries, we do not expect that a shortage of PV component supply will occur in 2014, nor does it expect a major increase in prices, in fact a moderate decline in PV module, inverter and BoS prices is forecast."
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