Global solar photovoltaic (PV) installations will see over 20% growth in 2022 and surpass the 200GW (DC) barrier for the first time, at a total investment of at least $170bn, according to a new report.
IHS Markit’s study predicts solar PV installations to experience double-digit growth in 2021.
Continued growth through 2022 would mark the second year in a row to experience double-digit growth of global installations in a high-price environment, the report highlighted.
IHS Markit’s study found the utility segment has been the most impacted in 2021, with multiple projects delayed or cancelled.
“By contrast, the strong growth of the distributed generation i.e., residential, commercial and industrial (C&I) sector has been one of the success stories of solar PV in 2021—boosted by the fuel crisis and surging electricity prices, particularly in markets across Europe” said Josefin Berg, research manager, clean energy technology at IHS Markit.
The intense logistic and supply chain disruption over the past year has “pushed the cost of solar PV materials to new highs”, said the report.
In addition, the announcement of new power restrictions in mainland China in the latter half of 2021 has severely restricted the output of manufacturers in certain provinces, impacting production of key materials such as metal silicon, polysilicon and solar glass—further increasing prices.
From October 2020 to October 2021, the price of polysilicon has grown over 200% alongside major price increases in other module materials such as solar glass and copper—forcing module manufacturers to increase their prices.
IHS Markit estimated that, since August 2021, average module production costs have increased above 15% and module prices are now back to 2019 levels.
Other solar PV components such as inverters and trackers are also being impacted by the shortage
IHS Markit expects that the current high costs of freight and subsequent shipping delays will continue “well into 2022”, particularly impacting the economics of international projects.
“There is significant appetite across global markets to invest in and develop solar installations, but the supply chain is just not ready to meet this level of demand, it needs time to adjust.
“We have seen this most clearly in the polysilicon market, which will continue to be a bottleneck for solar PV growth into 2022, until planned new capacity is ramped up from 2023 onwards,” said Edurne Zoco, executive director, clean energy technology at IHS Markit.
Continued supply chain tightness is expected to maintain high module prices until 2023.
The “wild card” for the 2022 forecast is the policy uncertainty in China, the US and India that should be resolved by Q1 2022.
These announcements will have “major consequences” for manufacturing capacity decisions and market installation pace.
For instance, in China the length and intensity of current power restrictions will determine solar PV utilisation rates and the volume that is available to the domestic and international markets.
“Future configuration of policy decisions and macroeconomic conditions could potentially undermine 20% of utility-scale forecast in the US next year due to a combination of high costs, a potential extension of the ITC scheme and increasing hurdles to import modules from international markets,” the report stated.
Despite the two-year impasse in solar PV cost decline, solar continues to be one of the energy technologies with the lowest capex and is the fastest energy source to install.
Over 1000GW (DC) of new solar installations are expected to be installed through 2025, driven by solar technology competitiveness, versatility and installation speed, that will be instrumental to contribute to the decarbonization of the power system this decade,” Zoco said.