Dissecting the global solar market

Solar PV growth rates grab attention but shipment volumes remain the ultimate goal. Here's a snapshot of global volumes, split between rooftop PV and 'big solar'.

Headlines in the PV industry are often dominated by strong annual growth rates, highlighting markets or segments that are expected to double, triple, or even quadruple over the coming years. 

However, these growth rates tell only part of the story and often overlook the fact that many of these high growth rates are a result of low historic demand as much as strong future demand.

As such, it is as important to know demand baselines when attempting to understand what growth means in terms of actually affecting the global solar PV picture.

China provides a good case study, as the roof-mount segment is forecast to grow by an average of over 30 per cent annually over the next five years, while the ground-mount segment shows much lower annual growth figures.

If these growth rates were examined alone, one might draw the conclusion that the roof-mount segment is the more attractive area for future opportunities. However, when the actual installed capacity and share of these segments is examined, it becomes clear that the roof-mount segment in China has lower overall demand levels and, even with high growth over the next five years, the actual amount of capacity installed will be dwarfed by the ground-mount segment.

To combat these misconceptions, it is vital that global PV industry players understand demand trends from a variety of perspectives, not just focusing on growth or market share. Each segment in different countries exhibits various supplier preferences and demand trends; knowing how each is structured is critical to successful participation.

Figure: Average 5-year growth and share rates by region and segment

Average 5-year PV growth and share rates by region and segment 

Source: Adapted from NPD Solarbuzz Quarterly, September 2014

Originally published by Solarbuzz. Reproduced with permission.

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