Up to 100 GW of new PV capacity could be deployed in 2018 as the industry embarks on a five-year period of rapid growth, according to the latest edition of the NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report.
Published last week, the report suggests that annual revenues for PV modules will reach $50 billion in 2018, with crystalline silicon (C-Si) based modules set to increase their share in the sector, snapping up 91% of the market between now and 2018.
Although globally the PV industry struggled with declining module prices and chronic overcapacity during 2012 and most of 2013, the market still managed to grow by 34% during this period, spurred by wider uptake of the cheaper technology in new and emerging markets.
However, with 37 GW installed worldwide last year, and between 40 to 46 GW earmarked for this year, PV is already someway along the path to recovery. Buoyed by this strong demand, PV manufacturing will also grow substantially between now and 2018, reaching revenues of more than $200 billion during that period, says NPD Solarbuzz.
"Solar PV module prices declined faster than the end-market grew in 2012, leading to a dramatic decline in revenues," said NPD senior analyst, Michael Barker. "This imbalance was corrected during 2013. Over the next five years, end-market growth will exceed forecasted price declines, resulting in a strong rebound in module revenues."
As revenues rebound and stabilize, PV module average selling prices (ASPs) will decline moderately over the coming years, says NPD Solarbuzz VP Finlay Colville. By 2018, the ASP is predicted to fall to $0.51/W, with system prices set to fall year-on-year too, mainly as a result of cost reductions in balance-of-systems components and project developers and installers introducing economy-of-scale improvements into their business models.
"Solar PV suppliers are benefiting from a less volatile pricing environment compared to previous years," said Colville. "The industry will soon transition back to a phase of profitable growth, with solar PV competing directly with traditional forms of energy."
By 2018, solar PV is forecast to account for 3% of the total global supply of energy, with c-Si-based modules set to account for 91% of the PV market by that point, the analysts believe.