The big 55 GW: Solar to run hot this year, says GTM Research

A ‘transcendent year’ is on the cards for solar, says GTM Research in its latest Global PV Demand Outlook 2015-2020: Exploring Risk in Downstream Solar Markets report, with the analysts expecting the global solar PV market to grow by 55 GW this year.

That figure – a 36% increase on 2014’s ‘transitional year’ – will serve to kick-start a five-year period of rapid PV growth that will see solar account for around half of all new global electricity capacity between now and 2020.

Growth in 2014 was a mere 2% in comparison, and the GTM analysts are bullish that a wider upswing has now begun. The Asia-Pacific region will account for around 30 GW of solar capacity additions this year, with China set to install at least 14 GW. This figure is actually on the conservative side, given that China’s very own National Energy Administration (NEA) has targeted growth of more than 17 GW.

Europe will bottom out in 2015, accounting for 21% of all new installations, before growing again next year. The analysts forecast that Europe will install 42 GW of solar PV capacity annually by 2020 – some 31% of the global market.

The U.S. is also set to continue its year-over-year growth, and will cement its position as the world’s third-largest solar market in 2015, behind China and Japan, by adding a further 8 GW of capacity, or 14% of the global market share.

Annual PV demand (GW) by region

According to the report’s authors, the solar industry is set to embark on an economic evolution that will gently usher out the age of policy boom-and-bust for a more sustainable, cost-competitive landscape. Solar PV is set to become increasingly market-based, with more and more new countries coming into play to shape the industry.

China’s ambitious Five Year Plan and new feed-in tariff program will lead the way, says GTM solar analyst Adam James, but exponential growth will be achieved and driven by a more diverse global landscape.

How demand will fluctuate by region

"One profound change in the industry is that emerging regional markets – such as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East – are expected to grow from their historical levels of 1% of annual demand to 17% over the next five years," said James. "Our core thesis is that solar is poised for exponential growth that will help it account for roughly half of new capacity out to 2020."

James added that the key drivers will remain the evolution of grid parity in Europe, and the massive room for expansion and appetite for solar growing in India and China. By 2020, GTM Research expects 135 GW of new solar capacity additions annually.

The report follows swiftly on the heels of a similar publication last week from the PV Market Alliance, which forecasts growth of 50 GW of solar PV this year, and 100 GW by 2022.

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