A period of strong growth in the global photovoltaic (PV) module industry is expected, thanks to a new wave of capacity expansions, a relatively stable pricing environment and increasing demand from several established regional markets. Growth will continue into 2016, when module shipments will exceed 2015 shipments by 10 percent, according to IHS Inc., the leading global source of critical information and insight.
Due to stable pricing and increased shipments, global 2016 PV module revenue is forecast to hit $41.9 billion, exceeding the previous record set in 2010 by 4 percent. PV module shipments in the fourth quarter of 2015 are expected to rise 29 percent, year over year, reaching 18.7 gigawatts (GW) in the quarter.
“Compared to prior years, this period of strong growth in solar installation demand, coupled with tight supply, will support relatively robust pricing,” said Edurne Zoco, senior principal analyst for IHS Technology. “In fact average annual prices are forecast to decline significantly less than in previous years.”
The United States PV market is forecast to experience a significant decline in 2017, following the reduction of the federal investment tax credit (ITC). This tax-credit reduction will contribute to a fall in global demand for PV modules, and PV module prices are forecast to decline by 9 percent.
“This year and next year will mark a climax in the recovery of the solar PV sector, after a period of intense price reductions and margin compression, when average gross margins fell into the mid single digits or lower,” Zoco said. “Even so, the predicted slowdown in global demand in 2017 — on the back of a decline in the United States — is likely to challenge these suppliers once again, since manufacturing capacity additions are set to dangerously outpace industry demand. Competition will intensify, which will lead to accelerating declines in prices and gross margins, for the first time since 2012.”
The PV Module Intelligence Service from IHS Technology closely monitors and forecasts supply and demand for solar modules and components.