A new report from IHS Inc. forecasts that global photovoltaic installations will rise at the fastest pace in three years in 2014, exceeding 40 GW for this first time and generating installation revenue of more than $86 billion.
Annual solar installations are predicted to reach 41 GW in 2014, firmly marking the end of the solar sector's two-year slowdown. IHS stands by its earlier prediction that installations this year will amount to 35 GW.
PV installations in 2014 will rise by 17% – an increase from 15% in 2012 and 13% in 2013, the new report says. The year 2014 will bring the highest rate of growth since the 35% increase in 2011. Market revenue in 2014 will amount to slightly less than the all-time high of $89 billion set in 2011.
‘PV installations will accelerate in 2014, driven by low system prices, the creation of new markets in emerging regions and the continued growth in major countries such as the United States, Japan and China,’ says Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS. ‘As the industry's recovery accelerates and market revenue returns to near record levels, solar manufacturers will leave behind the turmoil of recent years and enjoy improved business conditions.’
Despite continued cuts to government incentives in mature PV markets, all major global regions – Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Asia – will expand their solar installations in 2014, IHS says, adding that the growth represents a significant turning point for Europe, which suffered a steep decline in solar installations in 2012 and is set for another drop in 2013.
‘While PV installations will continue to stagnate or fall in established European markets like Germany and Italy, rapid growth is forecast in emerging countries in the region, such as Turkey, Poland, Ukraine and Russia,’ Sharma says. ‘The growth in the developing PV nations will more than offset the poor conditions in the large, well-established solar markets.’
Although IHS forecasts that European installations will return to growth in 2014, Europe's share of global installations will continue to slide as it is outpaced by Asia and the Americas. Europe's share is expected to fall to 29% next year, down from 57% in 2012. Meanwhile, Asia's share will increase to 48%, up from 29%.
IHS predicts that the fourth quarter of this year will close with the highest number of quarterly installations in two years. The report forecasts 9.8 GW of PV installations will be completed during the fourth quarter, compared to 8.5 GW in the second and third quarters and to 7 GW in the first quarter.
The robust performance in the fourth quarter conforms to the industry's seasonal pattern of a solid finish every year, IHS says. The surge in installations in the fourth quarter is driven by incentive cuts that go into effect at the end of each year. Individuals and organizations typically rush to complete their solar projects while government subsidies are still in force.
IHS says China will be the primary driver of this year-end rush, with more than 2 GW of installations projected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.