37th EU PVSEC, 07 - 11 September 2020

23 January 2019

Solar Demand Higher than Anticipated

While 2018 was an unexpected growth year for solar, the market outlook is significantly higher for 2019 when EU PVSEC will be held in one of Europe’s most promising markets – France

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The year 2019 is starting with plenty of good news for the global solar sector. Several market researchers have published their 2018 analysis – and it is much better than what they forecasted half a year ago. After the world’s largest market China had announced its solar restructuring efforts on 31 May 2018, most PV experts decreased their market outlook – with the most negative downgrade probably coming from Goldman Sachs’ analysts, who said last July that the solar sector would only install around 75 MW in 2018, down 24% year-on-year when compared to the 99 GW installed in 2017.

It turned out to be very different. Again, solar surprised everyone positively. Bloomberg NEF announced its 2018 preliminary solar numbers in mid-January, finding 109 GW of newly added PV capacity worldwide last year. This is even higher than the 103 GW, Taiwan based EnergyTrend published in early January.

While China’s newly installed capacity in 2018 was indeed down around 17% year-on-year from the 53 GW record additions in 2017, its solar restructuring had a less severe effect on the market than everyone had expected. In fact, 44 GW were installed in China last year. Shortly after the 5/31 restructuring nobody believed that China would install even as much as 40 GW. Moreover, quickly growing demand for low-cost solar in many other countries more than compensated the slowdown of the Chinese solar market. EnergyTrend counted 14 GW-level solar markets in 2018 compared to 10 in 2017 and 6 in 2016.

Optimism is back in the sector for 2019. IHS Markit in December upped its global 2019 forecast to a whopping 123 GW, up from a 117 GW forecast in mid-2018. Bloomberg is now even more upbeat: in January it estimated demand will even range between 125 GW and 141 GW this year.

The good thing for us in Europe is that the leading solar analysts see strongly growing demand for PV after a several year-long transition. The key is the right policy frameworks on the one hand as well as solar’s constantly improving cost competitiveness – and here research, development and innovation play a fundamental role.

EU PVSEC in France; Call for Paper Open
The world’s leading scientific solar event, the upcoming EU PVSEC conference and industry exhibition, will take place from 9-13 September 2019 in Marseille, France, one of Europe’s most promising solar markets. The French government is eying 45 GW of solar by 2030, which means an addition of around 36 GW within 12 years or an average of 3 GW per year. Major French energy companies EDF and Total have also announced ambitious solar goals for their home country. While EDF wants to install 30 GW between 2020 and 2035 in France, Total said in 2018 it is looking at installing 10 GW within 10 years.

As usual, EU PVSEC will cover all relevant PV R&D fields – from wafers and cells to modules and systems as well as policy and markets. We invite you to send your abstract to present at the upcoming EU PVSEC in Marseille. Please note: The Call for Papers is open until 8 February 2019.