Global PV market: 114 GW to be installed in 2019, with continued growth onwards

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The global PV market continues its soar along 2019, as the latest full year predictions are coming in. Year-on-year growth is up 17.5% from 2018, according to the most recent report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The analysts expect that the end of the year will have an additional 114.5 GW of newly installed capacity.

In other findings, Wood Mackenzie suggests that 2018 was only a short dip, and installation figures will increase to 125 GW from the early 2020’s onwards. This is despite a slight cool-down of the Chinese market, which is believed to have peaked at 53 GW in 2017, on the back of generous feed-in tariffs. Looking ahead, the world largest solar market is likely to settle in at 30-40 GW of annual additions, against the backdrop of competitive procurement processes.

China’s first auction saw a world record of 22.8 GW allocated. Approved price bids for solar power generation ranged from RMB0.2795/kWh ($0.0407) to RMB 0.5500, depending on system size, with an average price of RMB0.3281. The lowest bid was for a 100 MW project in the Ningxia autonomous region, and the highest was for a 24 kW array in the Chongqing municipality.

This market deflation is compensated by the continued diversification of the PV market. While in 2018 there were seven markets with installation figures between 1 -5 GW, the analysts assert that there will be 19 gigawatt club members by 2022.

In other high-capacity addition markets, India is recovering from a slowdown in its auction activity caused by land and transmission constraints, with a brighter outlook ahead. In the United States, some pro-solar utility plans overshadow the president’s stance on climate change and renewable energy deployment.

In the Latin American market, Brazil reportedly looks the most promising, with recently having auctioned PPAs with distributors and free market contracts with large consumers.With the country’s June A-4 auctions awarded the world’s lowest bids at just $16.95/MWh, Brazil has taken the crown for the cheapest solar market from Mexico. Mexico previously held the trophy for an $18.93/MWh bid awarded to Neon’s Pachamama plant.

However, it is important to add that the two Brazilian PV projects will sell at least half the power they generate to the Brazilian Free Electricity Market (Mercado Livre de Energia Eléctrica) where electricity is traded among generators and off takers, free of the contracted rates set in the auction. That record low figure applies only to the proportion of energy generated by each project which is supplied to the Regulated Electricity Market (Mercado Regulado de Energia Eléctrica).

In the Middle East, the upcoming 1.5 GW auction in Saudi Arabia will see a high level of competition, indicating vibrant market activity. There have already been 256 expressions of interests, 100 of which came from Saudi companies. The developers estimate that the initiative will generate around $1.51 billion in investments into the country’s energy market.

The WoodMac analysts add that around the rest of globe, competitive procurement processes are the main driver for market developments. While in 2018 some 81 GW had been allocated through this procurement mode, 2019 will likely see 90 GW of PV contracts awarded through auctions.