Global solar PV installations are set to reach 115 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) in 2020, according to an energy analyst.

This comes despite a number of crucial industry supply chains – including emerging renewable technologies such as solar – being severely affected by the impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to energy researcher Wood Mackenzie’s latest quarterly market outlook, solar PV installations are set to rise by 5% this year to 115 GWdc from the total installed globally in 2019.

During a presentation at the GTM Solar Summit 2020, Wood Mackenzie’s head of solar Ravi Manghani, said: “The most severe of lockdowns have ended in almost all countries, with construction on PV sites able to continue as planned, albeit with many projects facing delays caused by disruption earlier in 2020.

“Year-over-year growth in installations will continue each year to 2025, topping out at 145 GWdc. The one exception will be 2024 when the US market will slow following the final stepdown in the ITC schedule.”


Chinese solar market continuing its “robust recovery”

In Asia, Wood Mackenzie said the Chinese market is continuing its “robust recovery” and the researcher now expects it to reach 39 GWdc of installations by the end of 2020.

Of this total, 27 GWdc will be installed in the second half of the year. The pipelines for both subsidy-free and auctioned projects have “ballooned” in 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie, and the Chinese market will grow by 30% year-on-year despite “short-term supply chain disruption delaying module procurement for some developers”.

In contrast, coronavirus cases in India are continuing to rise and social distancing measures are likely to slow installation activity for the rest of the year at the very least.

The researcher’s market outlook suggests that without policy enforcement, India’s 100-gigawatt (GW) solar target is “unlikely to be met”.

It added that Indian PV installations will sit at just 4.9 GW in 2020, down 42% on 2019 and the lowest level since 2016.


US utility-scale timelines have been “largely unchanged”

The European Commission’s preference for a 55% decarbonisation target by 2030 is a “positive long-term signal” to the market in Europe, claims Wood Mackenzie.

But in order to meet this target, it estimates that renewables’ share of EU power supply will need to rise to 65% by 2030, up from 38% in 2020.

The German government’s 52 GW cap on installations that would have seen the end to the feed-in tariffs (FIT) program has now been removed and installations are expected to reach almost 4.5 GW in the country, which is the highest level seen since 2012.

In the US, the analysis notes that utility-scale timelines have been “largely unchanged” due to the pandemic, although persistent shelter-in-place orders have driven a 23% drop in residential installations quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) and a 19% QoQ drop in non-residential installations.

But, even in the distributed segments, it added that installers have “largely managed to overcome delays” using virtual sales and permitting platforms.

Permitting and low power prices are developers’ main challenges in Latin America. But Wood Mackenzie expects the market to continue to grow this year as projects come online despite “economic and lockdown-related setbacks”.

The market outlook said that increasing project pipelines in Brazil and Chile will be the region’s main growth driver, as “political and regulatory uncertainty threaten the Mexican market’s potential”.

It added that in the Middle East, the regional storyline remains focused on “fierce” tariff competition and top-down utility-scale procurements.

While in Africa, Wood Mackenzie claims emerging markets are “beginning to shorten project development cycles and reduce pipeline attrition”.