Global solar installations projected to reach 540GW in 2019

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The total volume of global solar power installations could reach 540GW within just five years, more than triple the 178GW of solar capacity that is now installed worldwide, according to findings from trade body SolarPower Europe’s latest Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2015-2019. 

Annual global solar installations hit a record high of 40GW in 2014, up from 37GW the previous year, led by China, Japan and the US. If module shipments are taken into account, this figure could be as much as 46GW for 2014.

China spearheaded the global industry last year with 10.6GW of solar installations, followed by Japan with 9.7GW, and the US with just over 6.5GW. China and Japan’s installation volumes were driven by strong policy support and feed-in tariff policies, while the US market continued to be underpinned by the federal investment tax credit.

Approximately 178GW of solar power capacity is now installed around the globe, as PV system prices have declined by about 75% in less than 10 years, making the industry near cost-competitive in several markets.

The global value of the PV sector is expected to reach approximately €100bn this year, in a significant recovery following the saturation seen in 2012 and 2013.

For the first time, the UK led the development of solar power in Europe, as developers sought to get projects into construction before the deadline for the Renewables Obligation, which was closed to large-scale solar projects in April 2015.

Despite a Europe-wide move towards auction systems for renewable energy, solar power installations are forecast to soar by the end of this decade. The SolarPower Europe report predicts that the solar power market in Europe could inflate by 80% by 2019.

This growth is predicted to take place as the costs of solar energy systems continue to decline. Last year, system prices fell below €1 per Watt peak for utility-scale projects in several European countries, while $1 per Wp prices have been reported in the most competitive tenders.

These price decreases have been largely the result of the declining costs of solar modules ad inverters, except in Europe, where the minimum import price on Chinese solar modules maintains prices that are above market-level.

Economies of scale have also helped achieve solar power cost reductions. Saudi Arabia-based power company ACWA Power’s CEO Paddy Padmanathan recently told Clean Energy Pipeline that the company was able to achieve a record-low bid for solar power as part of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority tender as a result of economies of scale and cheaper raw materials.

PV power prices of less than $60 per MWh were achieved in the Dubai tender.

However, marginal power prices in the power exchanges are currently not high enough to cover the cost of new generators, including solar power, according to SolarPower Europe.

This article originally appeared on a clean energy news service operated by VB Research, a sister publication to The Engineer. The reporter, Jessica Mills Davies, can be reached at