Global solar power demand grows nearly 50% in 2016 and is set to continue growing

According to SolarPower Europe, in 2016 the global on-grid solar power market grew by about 49% to around 76.1 GW in 2016, from about 51.2 GW in 2015. Global cumulative installed nominal photovoltaic power surpassed 300 GW and the moment the market exceeds the 1 TW threshold is in sight. The world’s largest solar market in 2016 was China, which officially added 34.2 GW, over 125% more than in 2015. In its biggest year to date, the US solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,626 MW of solar PV installed in 2016 (data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, SEIA). This represents a 95% increase over the previous record of 7,493 MW installed in 2015. Japan was ranked third, achieving some 8.6 GW, ahead of India with 4.5 GW. European countries installed around 6.9 GW of solar power systems in 2016, down 20% compared to the 8.6 GW that was grid-connected in 2015.

2016 will be remembered as the year that the first solar power purchase agreements were signed at levels that have made solar the lowest-cost power in many regions of the world. In 2016, the first tenders were won for solar farms in the Middle East at electricity prices well below 0.03 €/kWh. Equally impressive solar prices were even seen in Northern Europe: the lowest bidder in a recent German/Danish tender offered solar power at only 0.05 €/kWh. According to Arno Smets, EU PVSEC General Chairman, the upcoming tender in sunny Spain could lead to solar price bids that are in the 0.03-0.04 €/kWh range. At these prices levels, solar is really starting to disrupt the energy markets.


In 2017, the global solar market will experience a contraction, for the first time in over 16 years. According to GTM Research, global PV installations will shrink by 7% in 2017. GTM Research expects competitive reverse auction tenders to continue to proliferate globally. Records set in Sweihan in the UAE ($24.2/MWh) and Chile ($29.1/MWh) in Q4 2016 and intense price competition driving prices down in India, demonstrate unsubsidised grid parity has arrived or is fast approaching in over 60 countries. Rapid scale-up brought on by tenders will create 1 GW+ markets in Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines by 2018.Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY January-February 2017