The anticipated growth surge will largely occur outside of China, as annual global deployment outside of its borders is expected to jump by 43% by the end of December. IHS Markit points to looming project deadlines in countries such as Vietnam and Spain as one reason for the expected ex-China uptick in installations, in addition to a spike in demand triggered by recent module price declines.
The research firm expects China — the world’s biggest solar market — to expand by just 2% this year. And much of that growth will likely occur in the second half of 2019.
“The outlook for China remains highly uncertain, as the new support scheme for PV is yet to be announced,” said Josefin Berg, analyst for IHS Markit. “Plans to focus policy more on unsubsidized PV systems could slow near-term deployment, unless strict construction deadlines are imposed to spur 2019 demand.”
The United States will probably slip past India this year to reclaim its title as the world’s second-biggest market for solar. IHS Markit expects a development rush in the U.S. market in the months ahead, as the government’s investment tax credit (ITC) will expire this year. That said, it also notes that safe harbor provisions for the ITC that were introduced last year could mean that a lot of projects that still qualify for the credit will likely be built after this year.
The Indian authorities, meanwhile, continue to drive down tender prices, even through prices for components have risen due to safeguard duties. But the end of the minimum import price on modules last year helped to breathe new life into the European solar market. Deployment rose by 23% last year to 12 GW and IHS Markit believes that more than 19 GW could be installed this year, noting that the Spanish utility-scale PV market alone could account for a significant amount of regional growth through the end of December.