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PV market evolution until 2020: The long quest for competitive PV

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By Gaëtan Masson, Becquerel Institute, Brussels, Belgium

The global PV capacity reached 177GW at the end of 2014, and by 2020 the PV Market Alliance forecasts that 630GW of PV could be installed. The entire value chain of the PV industry needs accurate data and a clear vision of how markets could develop in the future in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, and especially the damaging price war that led to a dramatic industry consolidation. The question of PV market evolution will be acute in 2015 and 2017, which will represent the next two important milestones for PV development: for the first time in years, the PV industry could approach its production capacity limits.

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Forecasting the evolution of a young, dynamic industry is by definition an uncertain business, and solar is no exception. Rarely, if ever, do the numbers broadcast by any of the various bodies involved in the PV prediction game tally, and even historical deployment rates remain the subject of hot debate. The paradox is that getting forecasts broadly right is going to become increasingly important over the next few years, particularly for those involved in producing the equipment that will support whatever levels of demand come to pass. As discussed by Gaëtan Masson, director of the Becquerel Institute, on p.110 of this issue of Photovoltaics International, although global PV demand appears in rude health, complex political and economic conditions in many individual markets mean the question of how vigorously it will continue to grow in the coming years is less than clear. Yet for the upstream part of the industry, correctly forecasting PV market developments will be critical to ensure the right investments are made along the value chain in technologies that will help spur PV to new levels of competitiveness and thus drive continued demand.

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