Expect More Rapid Growth for the Solar PV Industry: 100 GW Annually by 2018


NPD Solarbuzz expects continued rapid growth for the solar PV industry through 2018, with up to 100 GW annual deployment globally by that year. Despite overcapacity issues in the last two years, the industry has grown quickly.


It’s no surprise to hear that the solar PV industry is growing quickly, and that more is yet to come. According to the latest edition of the NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz report, we can expect up to 100 GW annual deployment globally in 2018. This end-market growth is projected to increase annual PV module revenues, which are forecast to reach $50 billion in 2018.


The solar PV industry was hampered by overcapacity and declining operating margins during 2012 and 2013. And yet, even during that time the industry grew by 34%. Now that the global solar PV industry has grown to more than 37 GW of end-market demand in 2013, NPD Solarbuzz expects it to hit a new milestone in 2018, reaching a cumulative installed capacity level of 500 GW. This strong demand will also further stimulate revenues for the industry’s manufacturers, with PV module revenues of more than $200 billion available over the five-year period from 2014 to 2018.


“Solar PV module prices declined faster than the end-market grew in 2012, leading to a dramatic decline in revenues,” said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, in a statement today. “This imbalance was corrected during 2013. Over the next five years, end-market growth will exceed forecasted price declines, resulting in a strong rebound in module revenues.”


Crystalline silicon (c-Si) based modules are forecast to increase market share over the competing thin-film variants. Between 2014 and 2018, 91% of solar PV modules produced are forecast to be c-Si types.


PV module average selling prices (ASPs) are expected to decline moderately over the next few years and are forecast to reach $0.51 per watt in 2018. In addition, system prices will decline each year, driven mainly by cost reductions in balance-of-systems components and economy-of-scale improvements enabled by project developers and installers.


“Solar PV suppliers are benefiting from a less volatile pricing environment, compared to previous years,” said Finlay Colville, vice-president of NPD Solarbuzz. “The industry will soon transition to a phase of profitable growth, with solar PV competing directly with traditional forms of energy.”