Solar demand to contract 7% next year before sustained growth, finds GTM report

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The latest Global Solar Demand Monitor from GTM Research suggests that 2017’s solar slump is unlikely to be as steep as previously feared.

In the second quarter of the year, GTM Research global solar markets research associate Benjamin Attia was forecasting a 10% contraction in the global solar PV market for 2017, based initially on the policy shifts evident in China, Japan, Germany and the U.K.

However, Attia has since amended that outlook, forecasting a 7% contraction next year. This slight improvement in GTM’s outlook is largely the result of improving demand in India, a global pipeline shift for utility-scale solar, and low module prices serving to shore-up solar’s appeal in many markets.

Looking beyond 2017, the GTM researcher also expects solar to enjoy a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021, with 2018 returning to 2016 deployment levels of around 74 GW globally.

This year, five of the world’s largest solar markets – China, the U.S., Japan, India and the U.K. – will account for 80% of that 74 GW figure, but over the next decade this dominance will be diluted as Mexico, France and Australia all take their place at the top table.

"Next year’s installations will be the second-largest ever seen, helped along by triple-digit growth in India and nearly flat growth in the U.S. and global module oversupply conditions leading to falling module ASPs," said the report.

Three distinct groups

In analyzing the leading solar markets, GTM identifies three market groups that are set to shape the PV landscape further: current major, emerging, and post-mature. China, the U.S. and India comprise the current major markets, which grew by 75.9 GW between 2001 and 2015. Their trajectory will continue to boom, adding some 267.7 GW of cumulative PV capacity up until 2021.