The global solar market is gearing itself up for a 2017 hangover, after a record breaking year for solar installations in 2016, when a whopping 76.4 GW was installed. This is the view of almost all market analysts, with German-based market and economic research company EuPD Research the latest to offer its stormy forecast for the year.
The underlining result from its report is that the market will retract from 76.4 GW of installations in 2016 to 69 GW in 2017. Of course, it expects China to remain top of the class, while the U.S., Japan and India should make up the top four. Other notable additions to the market are expected to be Europe with 7 to 8 GW – still a far cry from the glory years of the past – and the MENA region, which is showing real promise, with some huge projects and record-breaking tenders.
EuPD Research expects the planned utility-scale projects within the MENA region to take advantage of the falling module prices in 2017, by developing the projects this year. However, the falling prices are not such good news for the PV manufacturers, who are going to be put under further strain as a result of the decrease in sales, which may force them to explore new markets.
Back to the expected drop in installations, EuPD Research puts this down to a decline in the Chinese market, coming as a result of a huge drop in the country’s installation targets. In fact, approximately 105 GW less PV is expected to be installed in China up until 2020, as a result in the target reduction.
“On a global level, a further competitive nation would be required in order to compensate such a sharp decrease in PV installations,” commented EuPD Research CEO Markus Hoehner. “However, none of the markets currently show the potential to compete with China. With regard to that, we forecast global PV installations of just around 69 GW in 2017.”
Uncertainty in the U.S. market is also raising eyebrows, as the new administration looks hell bent on dismantling any clean energy initiatives. However, time will tell if Trump and his staff have the energy to take a hammer to the solar industry, after getting on with his other important campaign promises, such as building a 1,989-mile wall.
The growth – or potential decline – of the solar industry in 2017 had been a widely discussed topic amongst market analysts at the back end of 2016, continuing into the beginning of this year, with an overriding assumption that there will be a certain level of decline, unless certain things change. Just last week the PV Market Alliance offered the gloomy forecast that just 65 GW would be installed in 2017, while module price pressure would continue to increase.
Fortunately, the long-term prospects for the industry look much more promising, with GTM Research expecting it to bounce back in 2018, and then to go through a stable period of growth. The foundations for growth have been laid, it will just take some more pushing to make sure it is realized.