BNEF: global solar to grow to close to 60 GW in 2015

While the global PV market remains a difficult beast to predict, with a wide array of public policy variables impacting on demand across a host of countries, BNEF expects annual installed capacity to increase by more than 20% in 2015. BNEF forecasts that by the end of 2014 an additional 48.4 GW of solar generating capacity will have been added to global grids.

The key drivers for global growth, on a national level, remains to be China and Japan with BNEF expecting 13 GW to 14 GW and 9 GW to 11 GW to installed respectively in 2014. China, in particular, is seeing an end-of-year boom with BNEF expecting a whopping 8 PW to 9 GW of PV to commissioned in China in Q4 2014 alone.

“There was a 6 GW quota given to what [the Chinese government] called ‘transmission grid connected projects,’ at the beginning of the year – and those were going ahead without any problem,” said BNEF’s head of solar analysis Chase. “The big question was all about the 8 GW quota for ‘distribution grid connected PV projects’ – and for those the economics didn’t really make sense until early September when the government changed the rules.”

BNEF’s Chase reports that many Chinese project developers were waiting for such a rule change and were ready to go with projects planned and designed.

“There were a large number of projects that were in project planning that were waiting for this [rule change to ‘distribution grid connected projects’] to happen. So I am pretty optimistic that something like 8 or 9 GW of projects can be commissioned in the Q4,” Chase told pv magazine. “It is quite a lot.”

BNEF analysis indicates that supplying these projects remains profitable for Chinese module producers.

“I think it is still marginally profitable for the low cost suppliers,” said Chase. “We are hearing prices in the low $0.60/W, which in big enough volumes is still worth doing.” Such prices work with volumes above 10 MW, according to BNEF analysis.

Elsewhere European markets remain slow, and BNEF is less bullish than some other analysts on the UK market in 2014. It expects between 2.5 GW and 2.8 GW to be installed in 2014. Chase reports that it is still uncertain as to whether the “Contracts for Difference” (CfD) scheme, which is replacing ROCs in May 2015, will deliver any significant volume to PV developers.

Looking towards emerging PV markets, Chile looks set to approach GW-market status in 2015. BNEF forecasts between 470 MW and 570 MW to go into Chile in 2014, growing to between 800 MW and 975 MW in 2015.

The Indian market too will grow, according to the BNEF forecasts. From 892 MW to 1.1 GW in 2014, the Indian market looks set to double in size in 2015 – to 2.6 GW to 3.2 GW. Power generation for onsite use, in India, is a particularly interesting emerging market in India, says Chase.

“Even though the typical grid price for electricity in India is not particularly high, a lot of companies have these ‘captive power plants’ for reliability and because in India some commercial enterprises subsidizes the residential sector,” said Chase. “And this provides an incentive for companies to sign PPA with a solar plant.”