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The US and China hold close to half of the world’s planned PV projects

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:30pm
Josefin Berg – Senior Analyst Solar Research, IHS

• Globally, IHS tracks 132 GW of photovoltaic (PV) projects at various stages of development, of which 10 GW under construction
• At a combined capacity of 61 GW, projects in the US and China make up almost half of the current PV pipeline. IHS considers a great chunk of the planned projects as immature, unlikely to materialize under current policy frameworks
• Beyond the very largest PV markets, Chile and the UK display pipelines of 9 GW and 7 GW, respectively

IHS Analysis
The global pipeline of PV projects now stands at 132 GW of which 10 GW are under construction, according to the PV Project Database published on a monthly basis by IHS Technology. The US and China together hold close to half of the world’s planned PV projects.

In total, the US has 35 GW of PV projects in various phases of development. A great chunk of these projects initiated development in 2011-2012, but have yet to sign PPAs. IHS considers that large projects that fail to sign PPAs by mid-2015 are unlikely to materialize before the ITC expires in 2016. California remains the hotspot for very large PV plants as it reached 3.2 GWDC of installed projects larger than 20 MW when the 170 MWAC Centinela plant was commissioned in August. According to IHS, the state has another GW of equally large projects under construction.

The second largest market in terms of PV pipeline is unsurprisingly China with 26 GW of planned PV projects, of which 3.7 GW are under construction. The pipeline keeps growing as local companies develop new large-scale projects. Most recently, China’s largest system integrator, TBEA SunOasis announced a pipeline of 1.2 GW. In July, SunEdison announced it would enter the Chinese market via a partnership with Huantai to pursue 1.7 GW. Apart for specific partnerships, PV in China remains a local affair. The same month as SunEdison revealed its plans, First Solar abandoned a planned 2 GW project after four years of development.

Beyond the major PV markets, Chile stands out with a 9 GW pipeline compared to an installed capacity of just 100 MW at the end of 2013. The country’s intense PV construction activity is raising issues with grid-connections, which can complicate future projects. Chile currently has close to 600 MW of PV projects under construction and an equal amount close to breaking ground.

Access to the grid has also become an issue in the sunniest regions of the UK, where most of the PV installed to date is located. PV construction activity is now spreading from the south-west to other parts of the country. The UK PV pipeline has grown to 7.2 GW. A great share of these projects aim to beat the deadline for utility-scale projects to be completed before the planned end to the ROC scheme in April 2015. IHS predicts that close to 4 GW of PV could be installed from Q3 2014 through to the end of Q1 2015; this would nearly double the installed capacity of the UK in just 9 months.

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