Frost & Sullivan forecasts strong 2018 for solar, despite China’s policy setback

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Published this week by Frost & Sullivan (F&S), the report, ‘Global Renewable Energy Outlook, 2018’ foresees 90 GW of new solar installations for the full year 2018. While this will be a slight year-on-year decrease for PV, the report notes that overall renewable capacity will see 13.3% annual growth – with 154.6 GW in total to be installed over the year, led by solar PV. The report expects global investment in renewable energy for the year to hit US$228.3 billion, a slight increase of 0.7% over 2017.

While China’s 31/5 announcement will have far reaching impacts for solar in particular, and a significant reduction to expected global installation figures, developments elsewhere paint a more positive picture, says the report. These include the creation of the India-led International Solar Alliance, which F&S expects to boost installations in several emerging markets, and the growth in floating solar installations, forecast to double or even triple from the currently installed 1 GW by the end of the year.

While policy support is being reduced or withdrawn in many markets, as renewables are increasingly able to compete commercially, F&S still sees political will as the key driver. “Worldwide, we see that as the number of countries cutting subsidies increases, the market is compelled to consider purely commercial alternatives to feed-in tariffs, such as competitive auctions and private-sector power purchase agreements,” says Maria Benintende, Energy & Environment Senior Industry Analyst at F&S. “The pace of growth will depend on the level of government backing in terms of setting up support mechanisms to enable 100 percent renewable energy generation.”

F&S also notes the trend for companies moving to cover multiple areas, beyond manufacturing just one component in an energy systgem. “The future of renewable power will be hybrid, with special emphasis on storage solutions,” continues Benintende. “To succeed in this market, OEMs need to evolve from being equipment and related service providers to being power generation solution providers.”

Breaking down developments by region, the report forecasts 20.1% growth for renewables in Latin America, notes positive signs from Europe with the policy target of 32% renewables by 2030, and points to challenges from low gas prices in the U.S., and continuing dominance of the fossil fuel industry in much of the Middle East.