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Despite pandemic-induced impacts, the PV market was bigger than expected last year. In particular, an installation rush in Vietnam and China took place in December and pushed global demand upward. PV InfoLink estimates that global module demand in 2020 reached 140 GW. Analyst Mars Chang delves into the numbers.
The PV glass shortage that persisted through the last quarter of 2020 set module prices surging, forcing developers to slow inventory draw. Module manufacturers were forced to renegotiate contracts signed at lower prices or postpone delivery until this year due to glass price hikes.
As 2021 gets going, much of the world is still struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Though concerns over the crisis are again rising among PV manufacturers, global PV demand is expected to shine brighter in the post-pandemic world. PV InfoLink expects global module demand to reach 153.8 GW this year, growing by 10% from 2020.
The strong growth can be ascribed to projects deferred by the pandemic or by price increases. Other contributing factors are stronger demand expected in traditional PV markets across the globe. China, the United States, Europe, and India will dominate more than 70% of the market. This year will mark the beginning of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, under which unsubsidized projects will become the major market driver. Relaxed regulations on the PV-to-inverter ratio will result in 52 GW of module demand in China.
Driven by postponed commercial/distributed-generation projects, U.S. PV demand is likely to grow slowly, and with President Joe Biden having taken office and the solar ITC having been extended, the long-term outlook for the U.S. market is optimistic, with demand likely to reach 24 GW this year. While the resurgence of Covid-19 continues to rage across Europe, strong PV demand on the continent looks set to continue this year, thanks to continued support from governments. Europe is forecast to see 27 GW of demand.