Global PV deployment trends: North America trending up, China down

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations saw a surge in global deployment reaching 75 GW in 2016, a 49 percent year-over-year growth. Looking ahead to 2021, demand growth will steady with PV slated to grow at a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with cumulative installations reaching nearly 800 GW by 2021, according to Lux Research and its latest report Photovoltaic Demand to 2021: Forecasting Three Cases of Future Deployment.

global PV capacity

Market shifts

Geographical distribution of PV deployment has shifted away from European markets since 2009, and in 2016 was dominated by China, which had a 46% share of all installations. Now it is set to shift again, as new markets rise, including India, South Korea, and Mexico with aggressive targets around renewables and PV installations, and dominant players fall off.

“As the market grows to more than 100 GW and record-low tariffs continue so too does risk, and we will see more bankruptcies like we did in 2016,” Tyler Ogden, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report.

Projections

Projecting the market based on historical trends, the impact of ongoing innovation, and government policy targets, Lux Research analysts found that:

• Cumulative installations are on track to double by 2021 with new installations slowing. After experiencing rapid growth from 2015 to 2016, PV installations will steady over the coming years. Cumulative installations will reach almost 800 GW by 2021, amounting to more than 7% global electricity consumption. Emerging as the third-largest market for PV, India is growing at a 26% CAGR, which will account for 18 GW in 2021.

North America and rest of world pick up speed as Asia-Pacific market declines. Despite being the dominant player from 2015 to 2016, China will see slower demand due to grid issues and lower feed-in-tariffs (FiTs). With growth rates greater than 10%, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, and the U.S., along with India, will pick up the slack.

• Multi-crystalline silicon will continue to dominate the market. Steadily decreasing module costs have kept multi-crystalline silicon the leading PV technology. While multi-crystalline will remain the dominant player making up 65% of total installations, thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) will grow its market share to 7% by 2021.

The above findings are the baseline from which Lux analysts uncovered using the company’s forecasting model. However, there are also two alternate scenarios that could present opposing trajectories: a policy downturn in the U.S. market can lead to a decline, while rapid integration of storage can result in an uptick.

— Solar Builder magazine

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