With 69 GW of new solar capacity additions expected in 2016, cumulative global installed solar capacity will exceed 310 GW, said IHS Inc. in its latest solar market analysis on Feb. 29. After growing 35% to 59 GW in 2015, global PV installations are forecast to grow 17% in 2016, the solar analysts said.

IHS said that five countries – China, the US, Japan, Germany and Italy – will make up 70% of the total demand. Interestingly, IHS didn’t mention the UK as part of this group, which was the largest European market in 2015, and is expected to keep this position in 2016 as well, despite the subsidy cuts after Q1/2016.

However, IHS emphasized that Germany, due to stalling demand, will fall from the second-largest installed base for PV to the fourth largest, surpassed by the United States and Japan. “A continued stagnation of major European PV markets due to weaker financial incentives has caused PV additions in Europe to slow dramatically in recent years, but global demand remains strong. The supply chain continues to benefit from a period of relatively stable pricing, and there could be a new wave of capacity expansions,” said IHS analyst Josefin Berg.

IHS says the general outlook is positive despite regional markets posing challenges to local suppliers. The US is expected to grow by 5.6 GW, India 2.7 GW and China 0.9 GW, together accounting for 9.3 GW of the anticipated 10 GW increase to 69 GW in 2016.

The consistent growth of solar PV will also lead to stable module pricing, that are expected to fall less than 5% over the whole year, the smallest year-over-year decline recorded by the international agency. “Generally, 2015 was a positive year for the PV module manufacturing industry, with industry average gross margins reaching 22 percent. Largely due to declines in polysilicon prices and strong pricing in some markets, total gross profit from modules reached $8.5 billion in 2015 — the highest level since 2011,” Berg said.