It's time for our regular check-in on where solar PV installations are headed. Here's the quick answer: Prices are still going down and capacity is going up around the world. Pretty much the same path we've been on.
But that path for solar has widened.
In fact, within the next five years, the world will likely have over 1 terawatt of solar capacity installed, according to the latest global data from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. That's a trillion watts. That's enough to serve more than one-third of America's electricity consumption.
Our last major capacity projection was one year ago, when the GTM Research team forecasted 871 gigawatts by 2022. The latest projections show higher-than-expected growth for every year after 2018. For example, WoodMac projections for 2020 are 26 gigawatts higher than last year's forecast.
Basically, it's Asia and everyone else. China, Japan and India will make up 20 percent of the total global market through 2023. Over the next two years, China and Japan will make up half of annual installations — even with both markets in decline this year.
But the long tail of markets is very important. North America and Europe will account for 28 percent of the market by 2023; the Middle East will jump from 3 percent of capacity today to 9 percent; and Latin America will make up 7 percent of global installations. The global market is increasingly diverse.
The reason for the upward adjustment in capacity is pretty simple. Prices are ultra-competitive — and falling. More countries are putting in place auction systems — increasingly "subsidy-free" — and large-scale solar PV is winning a lot of bids. Cost drops haven't kept pace with recent price drops, but WoodMac expects costs to catch up.
WoodMac analysts simulated 625 auction-tariff scenarios and found a median price of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2022.
"Bid prices will continue their downward march pretty much everywhere. More sub-2-cent PV bids are likely, both in leading low-cost markets and in emerging markets that are launching solicitations. By 2022, awarded prices as low as $14/MWh will be old news," they write in the report.