The solar photovoltaic market is poised to rise from the ashes of its 2011 crisis to grow to $155 billion in 2018, as market forces engineer a turnaround to a healthy 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to a new report from Lux Research.
In the most likely scenario, the report says the PV market will grow at a modest clip to 35 GW this year before ramping up to 61.7 GW in 2018.
"Manufacturers' nightmare is turning into a long-term boon for the industry. Record-low prices pushed gross margins to near zero or below, but they've made solar installations competitive in more markets," says Ed Cahill, Lux Research associate and the lead author of the report.
"Supply and demand will come back into balance in 2015, easing price pressure, returning manufacturers to profitability and restoring the industry to equilibrium," he adds.
Lux Research says analysts used a detailed levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis in 156 separate geographies, accounting for 82% of the world's population, to determine the viability and competitiveness of solar in each market.
Key findings of the report include the following:
- According to the report, U.S., China, Japan and India will take over where Germany and Italy left off. With an 18% CAGR to 10.8 GW of installations in 2018, the U.S. will emerge the world's second-largest market. But China will leapfrog it, growing over 15% annually to 12.4 GW in 2018.
- Utility-scale solar, the smallest segment in 2012 at 8.6 GW, will grow the fastest to 19.9 GW in 2018 as developing markets turn to PV. Globally, the report says commercial applications reign supreme as markets like the U.S. and Japan move to large rooftop installations.
- Struggling start-ups present opportunities to acquire intellectual property at low prices. For example, the report says Hanergy acquired MiasolÃ© – which in 2012 announced the leading CIGS module efficiency at 15.5% – for only $30 million after investors had pumped $500 million into the firm.