Global growth forecasts for photovoltaics in 2021

01/09/2021

The solar industry should record a strong global growth of new installations this years, despite issues brought forward in supplying some components, in particular polysilicon, copper and steel. This is the picture painted by the main market reviews. The industry will be carried forward by Asia, especially China.

The most conservative forecasts are those of the IEA, that in its “Renewable Energy Market Update” envisions that in 2021 the new installations should reach 145 GW globally, then moving to 162 GW by 2022.

According to the IHS Markit’s “Top 10 Cleantech Trends in 2021” white paper, in 2021 photovoltaics installations should experience a 27% annual growth, reaching a global installed capacity of 181 GW, thanks to the growing demand in the first semester. In this second part of the year however, despite the downtrend of some raw materials prices, the demand could slow down due to the increase in modules prices caused by growing Chinese demand.

It will be the two main Asian superpowers and America dominating the market: according to the expectations, by the end of the year China will surpass 60 GW of new installations, followed by the United States with 27 GW and India with 12 GW, installed especially in these latest months thanks to the abolitions of trade tariffs on foreign panels.

On a similar vein are the forecasts of Bloomberg NEF’s “1Q 2021 Global PV Market Outlook”, who envisions, in its most optimistic forecast, 209 GW of new solar capacity, 68 GW more than in 2020. A data destined to get better in the next two years, with 221 GW in 2022 and 240 GW in 2023.

This is also because the issues regarding the scarcity of solar glass and polysilicon should be solved, or at least mitigated, already in the next few months. These are issues that will be solved also thanks to new factories being activated.

In Italy, the renewable market entered 2021 coming from a difficult time, with 2020 being the year in which, according to the Politecnico di Milano’s School of Management Energy Group’s  “Renewable Energy Report 2021”, the new installed capacity has been of 784 MW, 35.4% less than in 2019. Photovoltaics still was however an important source for new plants, with 625 MW.

According to the GSE’s “Rapporto statistico 2020” instead, the new solar capacity installed in Italy last year should have been of 750 MW from 55,000 plants, which brought the overall installed capacity to 21.65 GW and the number of plants to 936,000.

Storage capacity tied to solar plants is also growing, according to Anie Rinnovabili’s Renewables Observatory: 29,706 storage systems have been installed last years, about 40% more than in 2019. The overall capacity of the storage systems has thus reached 189 MW, while the overall capacity in use reached 293 MWh, to which Terna’s plants should be added bringing the overall data respectively to 60 MW e 250 MWh.

Despite the positive trends, the Italian solar market is still very far from reaching the generation targets set by the national policies for 2030, which are necessaries to bring forward the energy transition and reduce the power generation from fossil fuels. According to the current PNIEC plan, Italy should reach 52 GW of solar capacity by 2030, while today the count only reaches 21.65 GW, which means 3 GW should be installed every year.

Chiron Energy, in its role of an Italian-market focused operator and one with important growth perspective in Europe, wants to actively contribute to the energy transition through decarboning project in strategic economic areas, such as generation, storage and distribution of renewable energy.

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