Market research firm IHS has revised down global solar PV installations for 2014 but forecasts significant increase in demand for 2015. 

According to IHS, global solar PV installations in 2014 reached 44.2GW, compared to its last published forecast of installs reaching 45.1 GW, a 14% increase over 2013. 

One of the reasons for the lower than expected installs in 2014 was the decline in demand within European countries, despite record installs in the UK that made it the biggest market in Europe for the first time. 

IHS said that European solar demand in 2014 declined by 30% to 7.9GW. 

In contrast, the largest absolute growth was said to have occurred in the APAC region, which was said to have increased by 5.5GW to reach 26.4GW in 2014 and accounted for 60% of total global demand. China and Japan were the two largest markets in 2014. 

China chimes

IHS importantly noted that based on its project analysis, China installed 12.6GW of new solar capacity in 2014. 

The market research firm said that that the official estimate from China's NEA of 10.6GW represented the sum of PV projects connected to the grid but in AC terms. 

However, IHS market data is logged on actual installations and in DC terms. Numerous media reports and several market reports have taken the NEA figures for China at face value. 

Bullish on US

In contrast to installation figures recently published by GTM/SEIA that indicated US demand reached 6.2GW in 2014, lower than previous guidance, IHS said that US solar PV installations reached 7GW in 2014. 

Key 2015 forecast data 

According to IHS global PV market demand is set to increase by 30% in 2015 to 57.3GW, doubling growth of 14% in 2014, which it said was based on a bottom-up analysis of more than 100 countries. The tracker is the first combined forecast from IHS and Solarbuzz, which it acquired in November 2014.

IHS noted that it had raised its demand forecast for China in 2015 to 17.3GW and lower than China’s NEA guidance for connected AC capacity by province, yet China remains the largest market by some margin. 

IHS also forecasted that Japan would retain its position as the second largest solar market in 2015 with installations reaching 10.4GW, an increase of 4%, compared to 2014. 

The third largest market is expected to be the US with installations exceeding 9GW in 2015. 

A welcome surprise in the preliminary forecasts from IHS is that the UK is expected to become the fourth largest market in 2015. IHS noted that it expects 3.5GW of installations in the UK in 2015, driven largely by the rush to beat the ROC deadline at the end of March 2015. UK installs reached around 2.3GW in 2014. 

In regards to the European market, IHS said that a rebound in demand was expected in 2015, noting that installs were forecasted to reach 9.4GW. 

Longer-term growth 

According to IHS, PV installations are forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5% over the next five years to reach 73GW in 2019. 

However, IHS has cut its forecast for global PV installations by 1.5GW in 2018, which it said was due mainly to a 3GW reduction in its outlook for the European market. IHS still forecasts more than 50 GW of new PV capacity to be installed in Europe over the next five years. 

However, strong demand momentum in APAC was said to partly offset the lowered European demand forecast, according to IHS.

Market confusion

Preliminary market demand reports from the likes of EPIA and the International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power System Programme (IEA PVPS) claim installations reached 40GW and 38.7GW, respectively, up moderately from around 37GW in 2013. 

Both are using China’s NEA figures of grid connections in the largest market reaching 10.6GW in 2014. 

In contrast, IHS has installations in China reaching 12.6GW in 2014 and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) recently raised its 2014 figure to 13GW.