2018 solar forecast. Demand for solar applications is here! Are you ready for market?
Past several years the solar business has been blooming – higher renewable energy demand, decreasing prices, increased efficiency due to technological advancement and a variety of applications made solar one of the most influential players in energy sector up to this day. Let’s take a look at what interesting 2018 might bring, according to Metsolar practitioners. You might want to include something to your New Year’s Resolution.
Solar power is trending
One thing is certain – solar business is still growing. We know China’s and Middle East countries enthusiasm, India’s openness towards the solar sector. Let alone some other growing economies’ in Southeast Asia, like the Philippines, or in Africa, like Kenya, which are putting more focus on solar energy production within coming years. And what picture do we get? If solar business has increased by 30-32% percent last year, it will definitely continue to grow in 2018, overcoming global demand of 100 gigawatts per year.
Growing expectations of solar business market can be colored with BIPV and street lighting market numbers. It is predicted that street lighting global market will grow 19% annually by 2020, and will be around 22.3$ billion by 2025. BIPV business is expected to grow by 16% annually until 2024, where 31.14$ billion is expected to be overall market size by 2024. Thus, it seems that solar market’s demand arrow will progressively move even higher in 2018.
Solar business is still expanding, expect to see even lower prices in 2018.
Prices will continue to drop
While solar business is expanding, prices are dropping. Since 2011, Solar Energy Industries Association claims, price has decreased by 67%, and it continuously declines to this day. Last October The National reported that new solar power project in Saudi Arabia could generate energy for as low as 1.79 cents per kilowatt hour – it is by far the lowest price we have seen globally. There were even more attractive prices offered in the same tender – though not as low as this one – what suggests we might see yet another record breaker deal in 2018.
On the other hand, it is relatively easy to predict, yet being correct is hard. Solar energy scientist Auke Hoekstra proves it by drawing a chart which compares World Energy Outlook predictions to reality – the last guess was around 30% of-the-target, underestimating solar’s potential and growth.
Combined green power solutions will significantly increase over the next few years.
Tendencies to keep an eye on
As PV is becoming mainstream, solar solution integration for various applications according to customer needs will still be the most important trend in the solar business this year and, according to Metsolar CEO Dr. Juras Ulbikas, there is one particular aspect to drag attention to.
“In addition to the mainstream of the solar market, where large solar power plants generate tons of energy, the increasing demand for various off-grid solutions with different functions takes larger part of solar market every year, – he says, – We predict that the need for combined green power solutions (a combination of photovoltaics, storage together with thermal solution ) will significantly increase over the next few years.”
Demand for niche solar applications will rapidly increase over the next few years.
According to him, next to mainstream photovoltaics, niche solar application uptake will occupy a large market share over the next few years. Moreover, he emphasizes Africa’s region interest in economic and social benefits solar energy could provide. all possibilities solar energy could provide .
“Africa’s solar market is growing rapidly, which, besides installing standard large-scale solar power plants, is actively looking for non-standard solar solutions, and off-grid solutions for a wide range of applications, from water purification, cooling, agro market and etc.”, – Dr. J. Ulbikas says and adds that all of it would also influence the global solar price reduction.
Amorphous, organic cells are more efficient technology to harvest energy from diffused light, yet further research is waiting.
Research directions to look at in 2018
Metsolar CEO underlines one more feature making this year interesting. It is the dominating attitude where every personalized application is to be addressed with a suitable technological solar solution. This trend has been visible for a while now, and yet development of new solar technologies should be focusing on this principle in 2018.
“Lately plenty of research facilities worldwide focuses on seeking for the most efficient ways to absorb energy not only from direct sunlight (where silicon technology is perfectly suited) but also from diffusion light, where amorphous or organic solar cells are more efficient than silicon. Here come technologies such as CIGS, perovskites, or tandem cells.”
He states that, however, it is pretty difficult to assess which of these technologies will show the biggest potential and will be widely used. On the other hand, it is clear that all of them are being developed in order to achieve the highest possible performance and to reduce the cost of watt/per square meter, which would rapidly increase solar integration into various applications, for example, it could lead to successful mainstream production of solar integrated cars.
Last several years has been really exciting in the solar market. We faced tremendous technological advancement, registered skyrocketing growth, witnessed the biggest solar energy price drop as well as regions worldwide declaring their goals towards renewable energy. All of it suggests that solar energy will continue to progress towards the position of the cheapest and the most popular renewable energy source in the world in 2018.