2018 Q1 Development in Global Solar Industry

Global solar predictions for 2018 were estimated to scale the industry to close the gap of solving world’s primary requirement of a greener cleaner mainstream energy. China installed 52 GW of new solar in 2017, while US added 12.5 GW, India ~6 GW, Japan 5.8 GW, essentially becoming the leaders of the solar revolution in the world. Growth in 2017 led to a prediction that renewable energy will account for 30% of total global energy generation of the world by 2022. To support this ascent, 2018 has to be a major year for solar development in the leading countries and by extension the world. After the first quarter of 2018, it is important to highlight the growth trajectory and the important areas that remained in the dark to successfully align the growth of solar.

China: As we have already explained, China added 52 GW of solar capacity in 2017. Therefore, a huge expectation is levied on China to even surpass the capacity in 2018. Matching the expectations, China has added 9.65 GW of solar PV capacity in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018.

China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) has released data highlighting a 22% year-over-year (YoY) growth from Q1 of 2018 to the preceding year. We also need to point out here is out of the 9.65 GW installed in 2018, near about 7.68 GW capacity is of distributed solar projects.

USA: The US is still the second solar market in the world. Even after US president Mr. Donald Trump’s focus on fossil fuel based energy rather than renewables, solar installation in US were moderate in 2018. In 2017, more solar capacity was added in the US than fossil fuel, therefore, the expectations are still high that US solar growth will continue to rise.

Tariffs recommended by Mr. Donald Trump’s presidency on solar panels were implemented in 2018 and it has resulted into reduction in jobs in top solar panel companies. Community solar installation continues to become a big hit in the US, while cities like New York are coming up with new projects for development e.g – 26 new large-scale solar power plants are coming up in New York.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is also moving ahead with solar projects. And the country made a 200 GW solar project deal with SoftBank in Q1 2018.

Developments in India

Infrastructural development, rooftop solar growth, new projects (20 GW), and export opportunities in India have started growing at the end of 2017, and policy support had given a conducive environment for green energy growth.

Solar parks in India have recorded 103% year-on-year growth by generating 8.54 billion kWh of electricity in the first quarter of 2018. And as compared to the Q4 2017, solar production in India was 31% higher in Q1 2018. Indian solar capacity also increased from 20 GW to 22 GW in Q1 2018. Several large scale solar parks were started being commissioned in the first quarter of 2018, boosting solar generation capacity in India. Most of these parks were among large scale projects that did not receive grid connection in 2017.

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) also has plans to award 100 GW of contracts in 2020, of which 77 GW will be solar power projects and the remaining 23GW to wind. Plans for 5-10 GW of floating solar power projects auctioning in 2018 are also on the table.

India has also announced $1 billion in assistance of solar project development in African countries. With International Solar Alliance, new untapped solar markets are supposed to get boost, through which- technology and strategy exchange can be possible.

However, challenges like- unresolved anti-dumping case, the port duty, lack of infrastructure development, and delays in bringing new solar manufacturing policy are slowing down solar growth in India.

India should note, that global solar sector witnessed a decline of 65% in corporate funding for solar (comparing the previous quarter). In such a stage, solar industry needs huge support financial and otherwise to replace fossil fuel quickly.

The Way Forward

Considering these scenarios, India needs to focus on developing its own manufacturing capacity and solve confusions that are pushing away investors.

The world is rapidly moving ahead with solar, and any lag in the progress will push India out of the race and extinguish the vision of energy reliance and socio-economic growth through solar. Therefore, more effort is needed in strategy to implement the best choice (Solar) that can change our country for the better.