Lux Forecasts Cumulative PV Installations Will Double By 2021 

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installations saw a surge in global deployment and reached 75 GW in 2016, a 49% year-over-year growth, according to a new report from Lux Research. Looking ahead, the report forecasts demand growth will steady, with PV slated to grow at a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and cumulative installations doubling to reach nearly 800 GW by 2021.

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

“Continued PV adoption provides great opportunity for market growth and innovation, which we’re already seeing with India emerging as a leader,” says Tyler Ogden, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report. “However, 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.”

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

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% of 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. With growth rates greater than 10%, Canada, Mexico, Thailand and the U.S., along with India, are expected to 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, according to the report. While multi-crystalline will remain the dominant player making up 65% of total installations, thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) is expected to grow its market share to 7% by 2021.

Lux notes that the above findings are the baseline its 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.

The report, titled “Photovoltaic Demand to 2021: Forecasting Three Cases of Future Deployment,” is part of the Lux Research Solar intelligence service.

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