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Solar Market Predictions for 2014

"After two years of a punishing downturn, the global solar industry is on the rebound," said Ash Sharma, senior research director for solar at IHS. "Worldwide PV installations are set to rise by double digits in 2014, solar manufacturing capital spending is recovering, module prices are stabilizing and emerging markets are on the rise. However, challenges remain, including changes in government incentives and policy, an on-going backlash to the rapid rise of renewables and razor-thin margins throughout the solar value chain."

Despite multiple risks, IHS remains bullish about the development of the PV market in 2014 and firmly believes that global installations will be in the range of 40 to 45 gigawatts (GW), based on a bottom-up analysis of more than 100 countries. Against a backdrop of reduced support and incentives in major European markets, a still-fragile global economy and major trade disputes rocking the industry, the projected level for next year is a remarkable achievement for an industry that just four years ago installed less than half this amount. The attached figure presents the IHS forecast of PV installations in 2014 by country.

With the cost of solar energy plunging, demand for PV energy storage systems (PVESS) is booming, with installations set to quadruple in 2014. Worldwide installations of PVESS in 2014 will amount to 753 megawatts (MW), up from 192 MW in 2013. Strong growth will be generated by all three major segments of the market-i.e., residential, commercial and utility-scale PVESS. The largest growth will be in the commercial sector, driven by demand for intelligent electricity-consumption systems in buildings.

Persisting manufacturing overcapacity for PV modules will result in a 10 percent decline in average selling prices (ASPs) in 2014, prohibiting any further increase in profit margins for suppliers during the year.

IHS predicts global capital spending in 2014 by producers of PV ingots, wafers, cells, modules and polysilicon will rise by a robust 42 percent to reach $3.3 billion. With demand shifting away from the developed solar regions of the United States, the European Union and China, PV manufacturers are gaining interest in running operations in emerging markets, a phenomenon expected to result in new factory openings and boosting local capital spending in areas such as the Middle East, South America and parts of Africa.

In 2014 Latin America will surpass a new milestone in the deployment of PV. IHS forecasts that installations in the region will soar to 1.4 GW in 2014, up from 300 MW in 2013. The majority of additions will take place in Chile and Mexico, countries without any conventional subsidies for PV.

In mid-2013, net-energy metering (NEM) became one of the most contentious issues in the U.S. solar PV industry. However, while states including Arizona, Colorado and California are re-evaluating their NEM policies, the impact of any potential changes on the U.S. distributed PV industry is expected to be negligible in 2014.

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