Confidence grows over double-digit solar industry growth in 2021

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Survey respondents called on more efforts to develop renewables-supporting technologies such as energy storage. Image: Invinity.

Almost two thirds of people working in the solar industry expect to see double-digit sales growth this year.

That’s according to a recent survey published by trade association the Global Solar Council (GSC), which found that 64% of industry insiders, including solar businesses and national and regional solar associations, are expecting such growth in 2021, a marginal increase on the 60% who benefitted from double-digit expansion last year.

Overall, those surveyed showed increased approval for government policies on supporting the deployment of solar and other renewables as they work towards their own net zero emissions targets. Those sentiments were echoed by industry leaders during a webinar earlier this year where the survey’s preliminary results were published. The survey will be kept open to industry insiders until 14 June.

Gregory Wetstone, chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), described 2020 as “a banner year” for US renewables growth with close to 19GW of new solar capacity installed, adding that renewables accounted for the country’s largest source of private sector infrastructure investment.

“Now… We have a presidential administration that’s taking unprecedented steps to catalyze an accelerated transition to clean energy and address the climate crisis,” he said.

Even in Mexico, whose government the GSC has previously criticised for supporting policies that favour state-owned fossil fuel power plants over private renewables systems, is expected to see “huge growth” in the solar market this year, according to Marcelo Alvarez, the trade body’s Latin America Task Force coordinator and president of Camara Argentina de Energia Renovable (CADER).

“Many PPAs have been signed, calling for bids are happening in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, we witness huge growth in terms of medium size (200kW-9MW) plants especially in Chile, and Costa Rica is the first [Latin American] country to pledge decarbonization by 2030.”

Growth in Mexico’s PPA market in response to regulatory hurdles affecting the growth of utility-scale solar projects in the country is the subject of a special feature in volume 27 of our downstream solar journal PV Tech Power, which can be downloaded here.

But most respondents also said that national governments need to raise their targets and ambitions on solar energy deployment in order to stay in-line with the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. Just under a quarter (24.4%) of those surveyed said their governments’ targets are in-line with the treaty. They called for greater grid transparency to aid the connection of large-scale solar to the electricity mix, greater regulation of renewables and support for energy storage and hybrid power system development to drive PV installations.

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