Global solar market on course for 10th consecutive year of growth, says IHS Markit

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The latest PV Demand Market Tracker from analysts IHS Markit has confirmed that 2016 will mark a decade of continuous global demand growth for the solar industry.

According to the quarterly tracker, 2016 will see annual installed capacity reach 77 GW, which represents a 34% year-on-year growth rate, building upon the 32% year-on-year growth rate enjoyed in 2015. This is the first time since 2010-2011 that solar demand growth has surpassed 30% for two years running.

However, 2017 will see that pace of growth slow to just 3%, with IHS Markit forecasting global installed capacity to reach 79 GW next year. The analysts also expect growth to remain in single digits in 2018, before a stronger market recovery in 2019.

Part of the reason for 2016’s impressive pace of growth can be traced to China – both its first-half (H1) installation rush and a strong fourth quarter that has been driven by further proposed FIT cuts announced in September. This has created an end-of-year rush, said IHS Technology senior analyst, Josefin Berg.

“Until China officially publishes the changes for the FIT rates, and the timeframe for the reductions, the forecast for total installed capacity in 2017 and the quarterly distribution remain highly uncertain,” Berg said.

As things stand, China has confirmed that it has lowered its 2020 minimum target for solar power from 150 GW to 110 GW – a lowering of ambition that reflects a projected decline in Chinese installations in 2018. Demand between then and 2020 is also expected to be flat, but IHS Markit calculates that even in such straitened times China is on course to exceed 169 GW of cumulative solar capacity by 2020.

India’s solar market is poised to take up the mantle as one of the world’s most enigmatic, Berg added, with 10 GW of new PV installations on the cards for 2017. This would see India overtake Japan to become the world’s third-largest market, after China and the U.S.

“The Indian solar market is rapidly maturing and it is benefiting from low system costs globally,” said Berg. Currently, India sits behind Japan as the world’s fourth-largest market, with annual projected demand of 5.8 GW compared to Japan’s 8.7 GW.