The solar industry is poised to grow in both revenue and capacity as advances in technology and new business models help to secure its place as a viable competitor in the industry sector.
According to a new report from Navigant Research, the demand for solar energy has reached a tipping point that will take it from a highly subsidized emerging technology to a parity market holder over the next decade. In fact, the report forecasts global revenue from solar photovoltaic installations will exceed $1.2 trillion between 2015 to 2024. Additionally, global annual revenue is projected to surpass $151.6 billion in 2024.
The Navigant report found the global electric power industry is continually diversifying and decreasing its reliance on traditional fossil-fuel powered energy sources. While this change involves other renewable energy sources, solar is leading the shift. The report determined, as of 2015, PV systems are expected to be equal competitors against other energy sources, including oil and natural gas, as political and consumer support for renewable energy increases.
"Solar's global annual revenue is projected to surpass $151.6 billion in 2024."
"Solar PV and renewable energy generation as a whole is a policy-driven industry," Roberto Rodriguez Labastida, senior research analyst with Navigant Research, said in a statement. "Legislation and regulation regarding solar PV development are being driven by increased concerns about the environment and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by a desire for greater energy independence and to spur job growth and entrepreneurial opportunities in emerging parts of the economy."
The report attributed much of the growth of solar to consumer adoption of PV systems, fueled by changes to business models. Solar leases, green bonds and yieldcos were all credited with increasing investor support in solar companies and the willingness of consumers to install PV systems.
The report also noted government subsidies greatly helped to stabilize solar in the nascent years of the industry and continue to do so, at least for the time being. In the U.S., for example, federal tax credits have been offered for residential, commercial and utility-scale wind and solar. A recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found the extension of these credits by five years in December 2015 will likely result a net peak increase of 48-53 gigawatts of installed renewable generation capacity by the early 2020s.
Changes for the solar industry
"The falling cost of solar PV technology will compensate for the loss of subsidies."
While many state-sponsored subsidies continue or have been extended, others are beginning to phase out. However, Navigant's research projects this will do little to stunt the industry's growth. The continued decline in the cost of solar PV technology is anticipated to compensate for the loss of tax credits, bonds or other state-backed measures. The report found by the end of the decade, solar panel systems are expected to be cost-competitive with retail electricity prices even without subsidies for a large percentage of the world.
"The distributed solar PV generation market continues to transition from being dependent on lavish feed-in tariffs and environmentally conscious wealthy homeowners to a cost-effective source of electricity that is gaining traction across market segments and customer types," Labastida explained. "The successful adoption of new business models is expected to continue to further drive the industry in its transition to a post-incentive world in most major markets."
Additionally, the areas of the world seeing the most growth in solar are shifting, the Navigant report found. While Europe initially led the push to develop solar into a linchpin of the energy sector, the solar industry is also nearing maturity in both the Asia Pacific and the United States. Additionally, Chile, South Africa and the Middle East are seeing considerable growth in solar adoption.
The report noted that local market conditions – including electricity rates and the types of systems being utilized – vary greatly, which will affect the cost of systems and their competitiveness against other energy sources. However, solar's growth is still expected to increase competition in the energy sector, encouraging more companies to pursue international opportunities and bring more energy options to emerging markets.
As the world's leading solar panel manufacturer, Trina Solar is committed to propelling the growth of the solar industry as a provider of clean, renewable energy and economic opportunity. As more countries and consumers become aware of the possibilities of solar as a sustainable and affordable source of energy, Trina Solar will continue to lead the PV industry in technical innovation towards higher quality and reliability.
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