It was not only great fun moderating the latest SolarPower Europe webinar – with Josefin Berg from IHS presenting a summary on the consultancy’s recently published Global Solar Market Demand Outlook 2016 – 2020, I also learned a lot. Let me share my notes with you:


Strong demand in 2015

2015 was a great year for solar, Josefin Berg emphasized – with demand growing 31% year-on-year and the three largest markets installing around two thirds of the total. China alone absorbed nearly 1/3 of all PV installations in 2015.

Prices continued to decline across the value chain in 2015

  • Module prices down by 9% (the first time only decreasing by 1 digit since IHS tracks the market)
  • Silicon prices down by 20%
  • Inverter prices down by 20%

Top Module makers remain Chinese in 2015

Even if several Chinese companies had announced in 2015 to start production outside their home country, the fact is that the leading module makers remain Chinese companies. Though IHS shipment data for Q4 will only be available in a few weeks, it is clear that little will change. By Q3/2015, Trina lead the pack, ahead of Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar and JA Solar – with Hanwha QCells from Korea on rank 5 being the only non Chinese company (although a big chunk of their products is even made in China).

Chinese dominance growing beyond modules to Inverters & EPC in 2015

EPC: After First Solar and SunEdison lead the top 5 EPCs ranking in 2014, followed by 3 Chinese companies; last year, the number of Chinese companies among the top 5 EPC companies grew to 4, only one non-Chinese company was left. In 2015, the new No. 1 was TBEA Sun Oasis, followed by First Solar, GCL Solar, Talesun and a name many probably haven’t heard of far – EDRI 11th Institute.

Inverters: IHS said the final inverter numbers for 2015 are not in, but in Q3 Chinese companies Sungrow and Huawei had shipped more MWs than longtime global market leader SMA. No 4 was TEBEA, No. 5 Wuxi Sineng. The Top 5 had around 49% market share in that quarter.

LOOKING AHEAD – 2016-2020:

China leads demand, US strongly growing

In the presentation, IHS chose to present only its base case scenario, which assumes 94 GW of global PV demand by 2020. China is supposed to stay the No. 1 though not growing anymore after 2016, with stable installations of around 20 GW a year. The USA, which will push away Japan from rank No. 2 this year, will almost double installations 2016 YoY (as many had prepared for an ITC expiration which did not happen), a drop in 2017 – and then grow again constantly to nearly 20 GW in 2020. While IHS believes that the Japanese PV market peaked in 2015, it still sees considerable demand for the coming 5 years, though constantly declining. India, however, is expected to be the No. 3 market as of 2018.Interestingly, IHS is rather positive on Europe, assuming that the market might even slightly grow this year and that almost a total of nearly 50 GW will be installed in the 5 years by 2020.

However, the strongest demand by 2020 will come from the Asia-Pacific region, which will be over 2X bigger than the Americas (nearly 100 GW), followed by Europe.

Storage remains hot

It is no news that storage is hot and the perfect match for solar. But I found it interesting that in 2015, when the market grew 3X over 2014, to nearly half a GW(PV) – the largest growth took place in the the utility-scale segment, which grew over 10X. As I am involved in setting up a Task Force on Solar & Storage at SolarPower Europe, it was good to get confirmation, our work will be needed. IHS assumes that storage demand is estimated to grow 50% per year in average until 2020 – with self consumption driving residential markets.

Larger distribution

IHS expects demand to get more dispersed. While the top 10 markets installed 84% in 2015, they will be responsible for installing “only” 70% in 2020.

Webinar slides can be downloaded by SolarPower Europe members at the associations’ website:; for questions on the report, pls contact Josefin Berg: [email protected]