Mercom Capital maintains its 2015 global solar forecast of 57.4 GW

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It’s been a rough year so far in for China. First came news that the nation was devaluing its currency, followed by a stock market crash. Throughout the first half of the year growth has been slow, even by official figures.

And while such economic turbulence will doubtless impact many industries, China is still on track to install a record 17 GW of solar PV in 2015 according to Mercom Capital’s latest forecast.

This would be a 50% greater volume than any nation has ever installed, and more than double German installations during their peak. Chinese authorities have reported that the nation has already installed 7.3 GW in the first half of the year. Mercom estimates that 2.5-3 GW of these projects were carried over from 2014.

“Demand in the spot markets is robust and installations of 10 GW during the second half of the year look achievable,” notes Mercom in its Solar Quarterly Market Update, released today. The company says that while macro-economic factors have not yet had an impact on the market, that there are still concerns about curtailment due to grid congestion in some areas, as well as delayed payments.

Conditions are less optimistic in Japan. Mercom expects flat growth in Japan’s market, due to feed-in tariff cuts totaling 16% in 2015. The company notes that Japanese PV installations fell 41% sequentially in the most recent quarter, and that the nation has restarted its first nuclear reactor.

Meanwhile, the United States continues its path of double-digit growth as developers rush to get projects online in advance of the drop-down of the federal investment tax credit at the end of 2016. Mercom estimates that the nation will install 8.5 GW, which is slightly higher than GTM Research’s latest forecast of 7.7 GW.

These three markets together are expected to account for 3/5 of the anticipated 2015 global market demand of 57.4 GW, a figure that Mercom has left unchanged since its last forecast. This is only marginally more than IHS’ forecast of 57 GW, made in March, and will represent a 28% increase over 2014 levels, as the strongest growth in the last four years.

And while the position of the top three markets remains unchanged, in 2015 the UK and India will both increase their positions. Mercom expects the UK solar market to peak this year at 3 GW, making it the world’s fourth-largest market. However, drastic cuts to the nation’s feed-in tariff ensure that growth in the UK market will end abruptly.

India is a different story. Mercom predicts that the nation will enter the top five for the first time in 2015, with 2.5 GW installed. India has already installed 1.4 GW in the first half of the year, and Mercom says that this is only the beginning.