So, hands up who’s going to miss 2016? Nobody? It’s true that this has been a testing year on many fronts – from the never-ending cascade of celebrity deaths to the shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory – 2016 has been a nerve-shredder, a patience-tester, a weary weight on the shoulders of society.
But now that it’s almost over, the distance of time – allied to a large helping of IHS Markit’s exemplary analysis – permits us to see the green shoots of positivity that have poked through the canvas of darkness.
To wit: the solar industry added 77 GW of new capacity this year, the most ever, and a 34% increase on 2015. That’s a reason to be cheerful. And we will do even better next year, reaching an estimated 79 GW next year – which is still growth, but a distinct slowing of the +30% the market has recorded for two years straight.
The IHS Markit data forecasts a further single-digit growth in 2018, before a stronger market recovery in 2019. China is taking its foot off the gas slightly, lowering its 2020 installation goal from 150 GW to 110 GW, and this will weigh on installation figures in 2017, IHS believes. However, India will likely hit 10 GW of new capacity and overtake Japan as the third-largest solar market on the planet.
“The Indian solar market is rapidly maturing and it is benefiting from low system costs globally,” said IHS Technology senior analyst Josefin Berg.
India aims high
Hot on the heels of IHS’ effusive praise, India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) outlined a draft ten-year energy blueprint that forecasts that the nation will exceed its Paris Agreement renewable energy target by half, and three years ahead of schedule.
Based on the CEA’s projections, India will source 57% of its energy from renewables by 2027, which is an impressive advance on the 40% by 2030 target agreed to at COP21 last year. By 2027, Energy Minister Piyush Goyal said, India hopes to be sitting on some 275 GW of installed clean energy, with more than half of that figure likely to come from solar power.
Despite public government funding in solar and wind power still way short of the levels required to meet the 175 GW of renewable capacity by 2022 goal, an influx of overseas capital has arrived in 2016, with more of the same likely in the forthcoming years.
Around $20 billion has been committed to India’s soaring solar sector by Taiwan’s Foxconn and Japan’s Softbank, with domestic assistance arriving in the form of India’s Bharti Enterprises. Indian developers are also jostling for greater prominence, with Tata pledging to draw 40% of its energy from renewable source by 2025, and Adani and Azure Power stepping up their solar investments.
Fly in the ointment
Solar’s original powerhouse of Europe continues to find itself at odds with the PV industry’s apex market and producer, China, with the European Commission (EC) this week proposing a two-year extension of the controversial tariffs currently applied against China.
An official document sent by the Commission to recommends that the Minimum Import Price (MIP) and anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs are maintained on March 2017, prompting SolarPower Europe president Oliver Schaefer to label these calls the wrong decision, adding: ““Opening ex-officio interim reviews on the minimum import price mechanism is simply tinkering at the edges of a profound issue of European-wide importance,” Schaefer said.
James Watson, SolarPower Europe’s CEO, added: “This year 36 European solar associations representing 120,000 companies and 1.3 million jobs as well as 407 European companies from all 28 Member States called on the Commission to end the trade measures. The large majority of European stakeholders want to see the removal of the trade barriers. We now hope that the Member States will be supportive of European solar.”
However, EU ProSun spokesman Milan Nitzsche told pv magazine: “EU ProSun welcomes the very detailed analysis of the EU Commission and the conclusion to extend the measures. This will help to continue the process of recovery of one of Europe’s key technologies. European manufacturers today are in the leading role for quality, longevity, efficiency and sustainability of solar cells and modules. This may not be allowed to be destroyed by Chinese dumping.”
Trina Soler sets mono record
Trina Solar, the Tier 1 Chinese solar manufacturer, announced this week that it has reached a record 22.61% efficiency for its p-type mono-crystalline silicon PERC cell based on a large-sized (243.23 cm squared) boron-doped Cz-Si substrate.
This record surpasses the company’s previous world record of 21.1% set in July under industrial conditions, and is the highest conversion efficiency so far achieved using a low-cost industrial process on such a large substrate.
The efficiency has been verified by Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE CalLab, Trina Solar confirmed. Its State Key Laboratory of PV Science and Technology of China (SKL PVST) achieved the record using back surface passivation, front surface advanced passivation and anti-LID technologies on the PERC cell.
“Over the last few year, our R&D team at SKL PVST has managed to continuously improve the efficiency of our mono- and multi-crystalline silicon PERC solar cells, pushing the limits of technology and surpassing our previous records,” said Trina Solar chief scientist and VP Pierre Verlinden.
And in other news…
TerraForm Global posted a dire financial warning of things to come in its 2015 filing, the U.K. begins construction of a solar farm on its last ever deep coal mine, and the pv magazine staff are convalescing for a well-earned festive break, so have a Merry Christmas, one and all.