According to Lux Research, the solar industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.3% worldwide — from 37.5 GW in 2013 to 65.6 GW in 2019. Emerging trade disputes involving China, as well as global policies, still cast a shadow over short-term prospects.
“With solar now fairly common in most parts of the world, it reaps the rewards of direct incentives but also faces uncertainty due to pressure on trade activity with China,” said Matthew Feinstein, Lux Research Senior Analyst and the lead author of the report “Solar Market Size Update 2014: Reform for the Long Haul.”
“Furthermore, as an increasingly commonplace electricity source, most major markets are dealing with some combination of these dynamics, complicating the status of policy globally,” he added.
In addition to weighing policy and other challenges, Lux analysts evaluated the growth trajectory of solar. Notable findings include:
- Growth is fastest in the Americas: At an annual growth rate of 16.3%, the Americas will be the fastest-growing region in the world as the new installations market there nearly triples from 5.3 GW in 2013 to 15.4 GW in 2019. The U.S. will outpace the rest of the Americas, growing from 4.7 GW to 11.7 GW, but South America will grow tenfold to 2.5 GW in 2019. The Asia-Pacific region will grow at a lower 8.2% but will account for over 50% of global demand, led by China, Japan, and other emerging markets.
- Cost cuts will be sustained: With cost cuts critical to the sustained growth of the industry, incremental increases in efficiency are on course from technologies such as passivated emitter rear contact (PERC), heterojunction with intrinsic layer (HIT), and selective emitter (SE). System costs will drop by approximately $0.36/W for utility-scale and $0.60/W for residential by 2019. This will translate to a 20% cut in total system costs.
- X-Si remains the technology of choice: Crystalline silicon (x-Si) will dominate the solar market through 2019 even though other module technologies such as copper iridium gallium diselenide (CIGS), copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and thin, flexible, epitaxial silicon (epi-Si) have the potential to become major threats in the future. X-Si, with an 84.6% market share, will grow from 31.6 GW in 2013 to 55.7 GW in 2019, growing at a rate of 8.45%. CdTe and CIGS will be a distant second — growing to 4.8 GWp and 4.2 GW, respectively, in 2019.
All of this information is enlightening, but ultimately the most important takeaway from this report is that despite short-term difficulties, solar is expected to continue its strong growth for at least several years to come.