- BloombergNEF has predicted at least 160 GW of new solar PV capacity coming up globally in 2021 in its new report
- China is expected to continue to lead the world in this space with maximum capacity installed compared to other regions
- Even though the polysilicon makers are adding new capacity to meet growing demand for solar PV modules, but in the near term it will be the bottleneck
- Anticipating US and possibly European sanctions against Xinjiang originating polysilicon, BloombergNEF believes there will still be adequate supply of this crucial ingredient from outside Xinjiang
The year 2021 is likely to see the world installing a minimum of 160 GW new solar PV capacity under the most conservative scenario, which can also go up to as much as 209 GW, at least according to the 1Q 2021 Global PV Market Outlook published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BloombergNEF). It emphasized that the global PV industry was largely resilient against the impact of COVID-19 related disruptions in 2020 and is set to emerge stronger in 2021.
BNEF has adjusted its 2020 numbers to 135 GW added in a conservative and 145 GW in an optimistic scenario. About 1 months ago, the market intelligence firm pegged 2020 installations at 132 GW while expecting the numbers in 2021 to add up to over 150 GW and 194 GW (see BNEF: 132 GW Solar Installed Globally In 2020).
In its latest solar market update, BloombergNEF anticipates most markets to grow in 2021 particularly China driven by its carbon neutral target to be achieved before 2060 (see China Declares Carbon Neutrality Goal By 2060). India too is expected to grow as it has a large number of projects delayed from 2020.
To meet massive solar module production capacity demand from manufacturers, BloombergNEF sees equally massive expansions of polysilicon and wafer capacity coming up (see Xinte Energy To Build 200,000 Tons Polysilicon Fab).
“Along with expected new glass capacity, there should be adequate supply as new factories for glass and polysilicon come online, although polysilicon will be the bottleneck and prices will probably stabilize around $12/kg this year. There is plenty of module capacity, and we expect prices to drop to about $0.19/W for standard modules based on 166 mm wafers, with larger-format modules commanding a premium in markets without punitive trade tariffs,” reads the report.
Referring to the indicators of forced labor of Uighur population in China’s Xinjiang, as reported by Horizon Advisory, where the world’s major polysilicon production facilities are located and that has got the US government get strict about solar PV supply chain, BloombergNEF believes there is enough silicon from outside Xinjiang to meet demand, even if the US and Europe set effective sanctions on products from this Chinese province.
However, the prospective sanctions may require ingot suppliers to keep their product unblended to supply these 2 markets of the US and Europe, leading to a slight price rise. It would tilt the balance in favor of American solar module maker First Solar that produces non-silicon based modules, opine the analysts. However, First Solar’s global module market share is in the low 1-digit range.
In November 2020, PV InfoLink said it expects 143.7 GW global module demand for 2021 (see PV InfoLink Expects 143.7 GW Global Module Demand In 2021). A month later in December 2020, the China based PV market intelligence firm referred to a PV Men assessment, which said that the top 6 module makers aim to double their shipments in 2021 adding up to over 170 GW of module shipments in 2021. Based on their current production capacity expansion plans, the top 6 module makers are likely to exceed 200 GW capacity together at the end of 2021, it added.