Global photovoltaic (PV) installations are forecast to rise at the fastest pace in three years in 2014, exceeding 40 gigawatts (GW) for this first time and generating installation revenue of more than $86 billion, according to IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).
Annual solar installations are predicted to expand at a rate of 18 percent in 2014, reaching 41 GW and firmly marking the end of the solar industry’s two-year slowdown. IHS reaffirms its prediction made in early 2013 that installations this year will amount to 35 GW.
PV installations in 2014 will rise by 17 percent, according to the quarterly IHS PV Demand Market Tracker. This represents an increase from 15 percent in 2012 and 13 percent in 2013. The year 2014 will bring the highest rate of growth since the 35 percent increase in 2011.
Market revenue in 2014 will amount to slightly less than the all-time-high of $89 billion set in 2011.
“PV installations will accelerate in 2014 driven by low system prices, the creation of new markets in emerging regions and the continued growth in major countries such as the United States, Japan and China,” said Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS. “As the industry’s recovery accelerates and market revenue returns to near record levels, solar manufacturers will leave behind the turmoil of recent years and enjoy improved business conditions.”
The attached figure presents the IHS annual forecast for global PV installations in term of GW.
Europe Returns to Growth
Despite continued cuts to government incentives in mature PV markets, all major global regions—i.e., Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Asia—will expand their solar installations in 2014.
The growth represents a significant turning point for Europe, which suffered a steep decline in solar installations in 2012 and is set for another drop in 2013.
“While PV installations will continue to stagnate or fall in established European markets like Germany and Italy, rapid growth is forecast in emerging countries in the region, such as Turkey, Poland, Ukraine and Russia,” Sharma noted. “The growth in the developing PV nations will more than offset the poor conditions in the large, well-established solar markets.”
Although European installations will return to growth in 2014, Europe’s share of global installations will continue to slide as it is outpaced by Asia and the Americas. Europe’s share will fall to 29 percent next year, down from 57 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, Asia’s share will increase to 48 percent, up from 29 percent.
Strong close to 2013
The acceleration in demand has already begun in 2013; IHS predicts that the fourth quarter of 2013 will close the year strongly, with the highest number of quarterly installations in two years. IHS forecasts 9.8 GW worth of PV installations will be completed during the fourth quarter, compared to 8.5 GW in the second and third quarters and to 7.0 GW in the first quarter.
The robust performance in the fourth quarter conforms to the industry’s seasonal pattern of a solid finish every year. The surge in installations in the fourth quarter is driven by incentive cuts that go into effect at the end of each year. Individuals and organizations typically rush to complete their solar projects while government subsidies are still in force.
China will be the primary driver of this year-end rush, with more than 2 GW of installations projected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Read More > PV Demand Market Tracker