Following years of oversupply and unsustainable, often artificially low module pricing, 2013 is expected to be the year that the global solar photovoltaic (PV) market begins to stabilize. Market activity is shifting from Europe to Asia Pacific and the United States, as these markets reach maturity and solar PV approaches grid parity in a growing number of regions. Considerable opportunity also exists in emerging markets, led by Chile, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. According to a new report from Navigant Research, annual worldwide revenues from solar PV installations will surpass $134 billion by 2020.
“Financial incentives, government renewable energy deployment targets, and technology cost reduction are still the most important drivers of the solar PV market,” says Dexter Gauntlett, research analyst with Navigant Research. “In most cases, these renewable energy deployment and cost reduction targets will be met or exceeded, with 438 GW of solar PV installed cumulatively between 2013 and 2020. By the end of 2020, solar PV is expected to be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices, without subsidies, in a significant portion of the world.”
Several emerging trends will shape the trajectory of the global solar PV market over the next several years, according to the report. Utility-scale solar PV power plants are coming online, while lower system prices are opening up new markets for distributed PV and helping the technology reach grid parity more quickly in high-cost retail electricity markets. In distributed solar PV markets, innovative financing options are making the technology available to more homeowners and commercial property owners. At the same time, many countries have retooled their financial incentives, often placing greater emphasis on onsite generation, to prevent an overheated market. As a result, many companies see 2017 (the year after solar PV investment tax credits are reduced to 10 percent in the United States) as the year that solar PV will be able to stand on its own without subsidies in most major markets.