U.S. And China Account For Over Half The World’s PV Pipeline


The U.S. and China together hold close to half of the world's planned photovoltaic projects, according to new analysis from IHS Technology.

The global pipeline of PV projects now stands at 132 GW, IHS reports, of which 10 GW are under construction. In total, the U.S. has 35 GW of PV projects in various phases of development. China has a pipeline of 26 GW of planned PV projects, of which 3.7 GW are under construction.

According to Josefin Berg, senior analyst for solar research at IHS, a great chunk of the U.S. projects initiated development in 2011-2012 but have yet to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs). In Berg's analysis, large projects that fail to sign PPAs by mid-2015 are unlikely to materialize before the investment tax credit expires in 2016.

California remains the hotspot for very large PV plants, IHS says. The state reached 3.2 GW of installed projects larger than 20 MW with the commissioning of the 170 MW Centinela plant in August. According to IHS, California has another gigawatt of equally large projects under construction.

Meanwhile, IHS reports that China's pipeline of large-scale PV keeps growing. Most recently, China's largest system integrator, TBEA SunOasis, announced a pipeline of 1.2 GW. In July, SunEdison announced it would enter the Chinese market via a partnership with Huantai to pursue 1.7 GW. Apart for specific partnerships, PV in China remains a local affair, IHS says. The same month that SunEdison announced its deal, First Solar abandoned a planned 2 GW project after four years of development.

Room at the top
Beyond the major PV markets, IHS reports that Chile stands out with a 9 GW pipeline compared to an installed capacity of just 100 MW at the end of 2013. Chile currently has close to 600 MW of PV projects under construction and an equal amount close to breaking ground. The country's intense PV construction activity is raising issues with grid connections, which can complicate future projects.

Access to the grid has also become an issue in the sunniest regions of the U.K., where most of the PV installed to date is located. PV construction activity is now spreading from the southwest to other parts of the country, IHS says. The U.K. PV pipeline has grown to 7.2 GW.

A great share of these projects aim to beat the deadline for utility-scale projects to be completed before the planned end to the renewable obligations certificates scheme in April 2015. IHS predicts that close to 4 GW of PV could be installed from the third quarter of this year through the first quarter of 2015; this would nearly double the installed capacity of the U.K. in just 9 months.

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