Forecast: Steady increase to 92 GW annual solar installations by 2020

Global annual and cumulative installations are expected to steadily increase to 2020 according to Apricum’s global market PV model.

The Berlin-based Cleantech advisory expects 54 GW in total to be installed this year, and these figures increasing to 92 GW of annual installed capacity in 2020 (see Figure 1). China is seen to be holding the reigns with 180 GW of cumulative PV capacity in 2020. This list is followed by:

  1. US: 83GW
  2. Japan: 57GW
  3. Germany: 46GW
  4. India: 41GW

Contigents leading the growth

China, India and the U.S. are expected to install a combined 36 GW more in 2020 than they did in 2014. This entails more than 70% of the additional 50 GW of installations globally installed over that timeframe. Apricum says that this then clearly identifies the key regions driving growth which should draw the attention of solar companies.

China will retain its position as the solar powerhouse over the next five years as it seeks to reduce its dependence on coal. Japan however will start to apply the brakes on installations. Nevertheless it will remain in the multi-GW market range in 2020. Riding on the Japanese PV deceleration, other markets like India, Australia, South Korea and the Philippines are expected to grow.

By 2020, the U.S. looks set to be home to the second largest PV installed base in the world. A big development boom is expected this year, says Apricum, followed by a steep decline in utility-scale installations in 2017 as federal tax credits get chopped from 30% to 10%. Nevertheless, even in a business-as-usual scenario, Apricum expects the market to be buoyed beyond 2016 by the rooftop segment, which is picking up pace and system cost savings. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and Hilary Clinton’s 140GW by 2020 target seem to have also paved way for optimism for the U.S. scenario.

Europe’s slice of the PV pie is however shrinking. Apricum confirms this in its report, stating that the European PV market will account for the diminishing PV installation figures globally. However, there are glimmers of hope, such as in France, where the government is seeking to add renewable energy into its mix to reduce new nuclear. The U.K., after its strong 2015 PV resonance, will transit to a moderately-sized market driven by mainly commercial and residential-scale projects. This is a result of the government’s opposition to large-scale, onshore renewable projects.

Still a PV renaissance can be awaited perhaps after 2020, says Apricum, with an onslaught of new residential installations triggered by battery storage that will begin to reach grid parity in markets like Germany and Italy.

New solar boom zones

Africa and the Middle East are touted to become the fastest growing regions. Africa will be driven by energy scarcity and MENA countries like Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Israel are turning to renewable energy. Apricum says that extremely low prices for PV-generated power have been achieved in competitive tenders in the region. The prime example being the US$0.0585/kWh tariff or a 200 MW PV project achieved in Dubai.

The giant Brazilian market will fuel South and Central America’s PV growth propelling the region into another high-potential zone for PV. Brazil keeps the throne as the most important market and as Apricum highlights, heavy competition in the auctions and plans for several module manufacturers to set up shop in Brazil, are key indications that it will be a major PV market for years to come.

Even with such high installation numbers, the solar market is not expected to become saturated in 2020. PV will still be a relatively low percentage of the energy mix in countries like China, the U.S. and India by this golden year.

Germany and Italy have provided prime examples of how PV penetration in the high single digits is manageable given limitations. Thereby, the maximum possible number of renewable sources flowing into the energy mix keeps inching upwards thanks to smarter grids, demand management and advanced storage technologies to name a few drivers. This in turn holds great potential for further growth beyond 2020.