Demand for solar photovoltaic energy across Latin America and the Caribbean is poised for explosive growth through 2017, with a forecasted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45%, according to a new report from NPD Solarbuzz.
‘Historically, PV demand was confined to rural off-grid and niche applications, but new renewable energy policies and incentive programs are now opening up the region for strong PV deployment,’ says Chris Sunsong, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. ‘Set against a backdrop of strong economic growth, expanding energy demand and increasing electricity prices, the conditions for PV adoption appear particularly attractive.’
Mexico, Chile and Brazil are emerging as market leaders within the region, driven by a combination of net-metering, renewable portfolio standards and other policies. These three countries are forecast to have almost 70% of PV demand within the region by 2017.
By the end of 2012, energy regulators across the region will have received PV project applications in excess of 6 GW, stimulating a healthy pipeline of new opportunities for PV component suppliers, developers and installers, NPD Solarbuzz predicts.
The dominant ground-mount segment is forecast to provide 60% of PV demand by 2017. However, commercial and residential segments will see increased PV adoption from 2015 onwards as PV prices continue to decline and local installers target new revenue opportunities.
The off-grid sector will continue to benefit from increased demand from rural electrification and development initiatives.
While the fundamentals for PV adoption remain particularly strong and the long-term prospects are highly appealing, a variety of technical, economic, and political obstacles still exist that must be overcome. ‘PV connection and integration procedures are not yet clearly defined, and there are concerns about grid stability as PV contributions come online,’ notes Sunsong. ‘Electricity subsidies in Mexico and low natural gas prices in Peru are also delaying the onset of PV grid-parity for some end-user categories, while import tariffs across the region are keeping PV system costs on the high side.’
With PV demand softening across established European countries and growing uncertainty regarding access to PV markets in the U.S., China and India, emerging PV regions are essential to sustain revenue growth targets, according to the report.
‘Having a successful market-entry strategy for Latin America is now essential for leading PV suppliers before key markets develop in the region and supply chains and purchasing channels are established,’ says Sunsong.