New solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity may rival or exceed the growth in wind energy for the first time in 2013, as growing demand and continuing industry consolidation begin to brighten prospects for solar manufacturers, industry analysts report.
Between 30 and 37 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity will be connected to power grids worldwide, according to forecasts obtained by TheEnergyCollective.com from GTM Research and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The higher end of that forecast would outstrip BNEF’s projections for 33.8 GW of wind capacity additions this year, marking the first time that solar has gone toe to toe with wind in terms of capacity growth.
BNEF projects a 20 percent increase in the annual rate of solar PV installations, while wind power growth will slow by 25 percent as markets in the United States and China cooled this year.
I caught up with Shyam Mehta, Senior Solar Analyst at GTM Research, to talk about what this year’s forecast portends for the global solar industry. Is solar really set out pace wind? And what does the growth in solar demand mean for PV manufacturers, who have been struggling through a period of oversupply, razor-slim margins, and a raft of bankruptcies? What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.
Jesse Jenkins (TheEnergyCollective.com): BNEF projects that the annual rate of solar PV capacity installation will outstrip wind growth for the first time this year. Do you also foresee solar capacity additions passing wind?
Shyam Mehta (GTM Research): Our forecast for PV demand in 2013 is currently 30.8 GW. That’s only 2 percent higher than our 2012 estimate of 30.0 GW.