As attention turns to the year ahead, many are wondering what 2019 holds for solar PV. After a year of pursuing solar system efficiencies and responding to tariffs which targeted PV components, the industry is generally optimistic about its growth potential in 2019.
With this in mind, we’ve put together our thoughts on what might lie ahead for the solar and renewable energy sectors:
Europe’s solar star will rise again
It’s expected that the EU market will continue to grow on the 12.6GW installed in 2018, thanks to the expiry of the MIP and trade duties on modules and cells from Asia. Now that there are market prices for solar PV in Europe, we expect to see a further boost in demand that will aid in reinvigorating the European solar sector.
Furthermore, falling costs, looming EU 2020 targets, competitive tenders and corporate power purchase agreements could all increase the demand for solar power in the coming year.
16 countries worldwide will achieve an increase in installed capacity
It’s predicted that module sales will be around 112GW this year, mainly as a result of China’s increased 2020 targets, and renewed market growth in both India and the USA. Additionally, it’s thought that 16 countries across the globe will achieve an increase of more than 1GW in installed capacity, with countries in Europe including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Ukraine.
And while China is still expected to account for roughly half of the global market, we expect to see in an increase in capacity located elsewhere, including Argentina, South Africa, Egypt and Vietnam.
CO2 footprint and energy payback will see increased focus
As the number of solar energy installations increase, we expect to see an emphasis on carbon footprint and energy payback. The manufacturing of silicon panels, and glass and aluminium frames can be very energy-demanding, so production processes could come under scrutiny. The less environmental impact, the better – so this could ultimately benefit manufacturers of frame and glassless thin solar panels.
Prices will remain stable along the PV value chain
Analysts assume little movement in the prices for silicon, wafers, solar cells and modules in the coming weeks, although it’s thought that the capacity adjustments of solar manufacturers are set to continue.
Simplicity in installation will become increasingly important
Module prices fell in 2018 and it’s likely that the prices will stay low in 2019, which suggests that we may see a new business model emerging. If the costs of modules makes up an even smaller part of the total installation cost, the potential for profit must now lie with logistics, balance of system costs and soft costs – allowing for a shift in focus to the ease of installation and new markets where solar modules are still in the ‘greenfield’ phase.
Corporate PPAs will continue to increase
In 2017, a total of 5.4GW of clean energy contracts were signed by 43 corporations in 10 different companies. This figure has slowly increased since 2015, and we’d expect it to continue to grow throughout 2019 as more organisations place important on corporate social responsibility and look for cleaner energy solutions.
Revamping and repowering will continue
The idea of revamping and repowering is a fairly new term within the industry, and it’s one to keep an eye on. As the installed bases of PV systems age, upgrading and improving the operating plants is becoming increasingly important to both manufacturers and PV plant asset managers. It’s believed that more than 40GW of PV systems in Europe above 100kW are more than five years old and could require changes in the coming year including repairs, replacement, revamping and repowering.
Finally, these are simply our predictions for the year ahead, and while some may not be fulfilled as expected – the unexpected is always right around the corner! – they are certainly a useful indicator of potential pathways and areas for growth for 2019.