Solar Energy

Key updates from the Winter 2024 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation

Key updates from the Winter 2024 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released January 25, 2024, based on NREL’s report.

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Global Solar Deployment

Analysts estimate 350 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) of photovoltaics (PV) were installed globally in 2023 (though recent data have indicated that number could be more like 440 GWdc); global installations are expected to increase to 400 GWdc in 2024 and 590 GWdc by 2027. 2023 estimates may increase as it was recently reported that China installed approximately 260 GWdc of PV panels in 2023.

U.S. PV Deployment

Though California residential installations were up through the first nine months of 2023, likely caused by a spike in interconnection applications in the lead up to April 15 change from California’s net energy metering (CA NEM) 2.0 to 3.0, interconnection applications have since plummeted well below historical levels. 

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, the United States installed 15.8 GW alternating current (ac) of PV in the first nine months of 2023—a record—up 31% year-over-year (y/y) (the Solar Energy Industries Association reported 19.3 GWdc). 

EIA projects the percentage of U.S. electric capacity additions from solar will grow from 46% in 2022 (18 GWac) to 54% in 2023 (31 GWac), 63% in 2024 (44 GWac), and 71% in 2025 (51 GWac). 

Other analysts’ projections are lower, with a median value of 33 GWdc in 2023, growing to 36 GWdc in 2024 and 40 GWdc in 2025. 

The United States installed approximately 15.1 GW-hours (GWh) (4.8 GWac) of energy storage onto the electric grid in the first nine months of 2023, +40% (+32%) y/y, as a result of growth in all sectors.

PV System Pricing

From the second half (H2) of 2022 to H2 2023 (partial), the median reported distributed PV system price in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York:

Decreased 0.2% to $4.25/Wdc for systems 2.5 to 10 kilowatts (kW)

Decreased 4% to $3.66/Wdc for systems 10 to 100 kW

Increased 2% to $2.49/Wdc for systems 100 to 500 kW

Increased 7% to $1.92/Wdc for systems 500 kW to 5 megawatts (MW).

Global Manufacturing

BloombergNEF (BNEF) reports that at the end of 2023, global PV manufacturing capacity was between 650 and 750 GW―a growth of two to three times in the past five years, 90% of which occurred in China. In 2023, global PV production was between 400 and 500 GW. 

Despite global price drops across the PV supply chain, PV manufacturers have generally remained profitable, thanks to increases in sales volumes (particularly for N-type cells).

Component Pricing

Global polysilicon spot prices fell 18% from mid-October ($10.53/kilogram [kg]) to mid-January ($8.70/kg), approaching their lowest levels of the past several years.

Global module prices reached yet another record low, falling 22% between mid-October and mid-January to $0.11/Wdc. 

In the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, the average U.S. module price ($0.33/Wdc) was down 11% quarter-over-quarter and down 23% y/y but at a 100% premium over the global spot price for monofacial monocrystalline silicon modules.

U.S. PV Imports

The United States imported 40.6 GWdc of PV modules in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023 to Q3 2023, setting a new single-quarter record of over 15 GWdc of modules imported. 

Most panels imported were exempt from Section 201 duties and were therefore likely bifacial. A significant number of thin-film modules were also imported. 

2.4 GWdc of cells were imported in Q1 to Q3 2023, up 31% y/y.  The United States is not on pace to reach the 5 GWdc quota exemption limit for Section 201 tariffs, although it has exceeded 3 GWdc of imports in a single year for the first time

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