Global solar installations are forecast to be in the 43 GW range in 2014, according to a new update by Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm.
Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group, commented that market conditions are as stable as they can be in the historically volatile solar industry. “Helped by strong demand, the module oversupply situation has improved. Prices are stable, and manufacturers are reporting shipment growth and ramping up capacity.”
With China revising its solar installation goals to 12 GW in 2014 and 35 GW by 2015, Mercom expects installations to total roughly 10.5 GW in 2014. The update noted that all signals coming from China so far have been positive for the solar industry. Support for solar seems to be getting stronger by the day and backed up by solid goals, policies, tariffs, standards and environmental regulations.
The underlying reasons for Chinese support of domestic solar installations are also strong – rapidly deteriorating air quality and saving jobs. Though the solar forecast may deviate up or down based on Chinese installations, it is not a matter of whether installation goals will be met, but when, added Prabhu. China is also putting policies in place to aggressively expand distributed generation.
Along with China, the United States is the other top solar market forecast to grow steadily over the long term. Mercom forecasts U.S. installations to reach approximately 6 GW in 2014, as its solar market continues on a course of strong, steady growth even without a national feed-in-tariff (FiT). Utility-scale projects and distributed generation through third party-financed residential installations have been the catalysts of growth. Third party-owned (solar lease) residential installations have been garnering most of the headlines over the last 12 months, raising over $3 billion in solar lease funds so far this year to finance installations.
“At the moment, Japan is a ‘wild card,’” continued Prabhu. “Though forecast to be the second largest market in 2014 with 7 GW installed, there are some mixed signals coming out of Japan.”
The Japanese government is investigating the large gap between projects approved under the generous FiT scheme and actual installations. The policy stance and support of the Shinzo Abe administration toward renewable energy is still unclear as they review the current energy mix. However, domestic shipments in Japan continue to be robust and lawmakers are taking steps to address grid issues, which include setting up an independent body aimed at weakening utility monopolies.
Germany will reach its intended target of installing about 3.5 GW in 2013. Installations stand at 2.9 GW in the first 10 months of the year. The Federal Network Agency has used monthly degression rates (currently 1.4 percent) to slow down the country’s installation pace. Installation totals in 2013 are projected to be less than half of 2012, and Mercom expects a similar trend in 2014.
Other markets highlighted in the update include India forecast at 1.8 GW, and UK and Italy at 1.5 GW respectively. Mercom revises its forecast quarterly to reflect on the ground conditions.
Subscribers of Mercom’s weekly solar market intelligence report will have access to the full update. To become a subscriber, visit: http://mercomcapital.com/subscribe.