45% Growth in Solar Installations in 2017
Solar energy is set to become the largest source of newly installed capacity in 2017 with estimates of demand to reach almost 100 GW in 2017 itself.
This would mark a strong 45% growth from 2016 and will be one of the sharpest growth rates in recent years.
Despite its large base, solar energy is continuing to grow at a steep pace again defying analysts who are too conservative. Solar (NYSEARCA:TAN) energy has already become the cheapest source of new energy with price reaching as low as 2 cents/kWh in some places. With the prices of solar equipment declining every year with technological advancements, this trend is set to continue.
Image Credit: SolarPower Europe
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China will be the biggest growth driver accounting for almost 50% of the global demand as it is expected to surpass 50 GW mark this year. While other countries such as the USA, India and Brazil are also showing sharp growth rates, China has become absolutely huge in numbers. China is far exceeding its own internal targets of capacity as both utility and distributed solar energy grow rapidly in that country.
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10 Countries Crossing the 1 GW Solar Threshold
India is a country which is also showing sharp growth as the government support and cheap power help the growth of solar energy. There are around 10 countries which are crossing the 1 GW threshold this year. Apart from the usual suspects for large industrialized countries, Chile has also become one of the 1 gigwatt-ers in 2017. Both Germany and Japan are slowing down after providing the impetus for the growth of solar capacities over the last decade. Despite the Trump administration, the solar industry in the USA is growing of its own accord and will become the 2nd largest country in terms of demand exceeding the 10 GW mark. Though there are fears of high solar panel prices crimping demand in the USA, the economics of solar energy are trending in such a fashion that the secular trend in the USA will be that of continuing strong growth.
Solar energy has exceeded all other sources of energy in terms of new capacity installations not only due to the rapidly falling prices, but also the ease and rapidity with which new solar systems can be installed. Solar energy is highly versatile in the sense that it can be installed on ground, rooftops and even water bodies. It is also possible to be sold in size of 200 watts to 200 MW with both a single solar panel and millions of solar panels being used in differently sized installations.
China remains the biggest risk to solar demand growth overall due to its outsized contribution to global demand. If a big credit event happens in China, then global demand could collapse.