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Solar Installations are About to Explode Despite Hurdles: Rethink Energy

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Solar installations are likely to be up 38% year on year despite continued Polysilicon price hikes, and other rising costs, sanctions on China for using Uyghur forced labor to make solar panels, not to mention the US Department of Commerce block in early 2022 due to Antidumping accusations in Southeast Asia.

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This is the key finding of PV installs explode despite hurdles – jump 87 GW, more to come, which is the new research paper published by Rethink Energy.

Rising module costs, high energy prices and US’ and India’s protectionism

By the end of Q1 US installs seemed to be down by over 50%, before President Biden stepped in with his Emergency Authority to break the deadlock.

“The great bulk of global solar installations are still in China which added 30.2 GW in H1 and will add a further 55.9 GW during the rest of the year, for full-year growth of 56.9%”, explains Andries Wantenaar, Rethink Energy solar analyst and lead author of the report”.

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“This means China is 38.4% of global installs and rising”, he adds.

According to Rethink Energy data tracking of twenty leading national markets, global solar installations reached 40.4 GW in Q1, followed by 46.6 GW in Q2. Those figures are up 32.4% and 50.6% year-on-year respectively.

As such Rethink Energy has raised its forecast for 2022 from 204 GW to 224 GW for the whole of 2022. The Indian market is also up 53.5%, and the US up 18.1% despite its total near blockage of imports for Q1.

The eight European markets added 12.8 GW and will add a further 17.8 GW for the second half of the year, rising 48.1%.

Latin America added 7.1 GW in H1 and will add another 12.2 GW, for full-year growth of 26.1%, while the East Asian Periphery – Japan, Taiwan and South Korea – added only 6.2 GW and will only add another 5.8 GW, a decline of 1.7%.

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The biggest accelerations in European PV deployments are in Germany and Poland. Germany has risen to 4th place worldwide and will maintain that position – with Poland close behind in 5th place, possibly even overtaking Germany next year. Japan will fall to 7th place behind Brazil.

India and China are both energetically bringing in new subsidies and incentives, but behind these countries with the highest year-on-year growth are almost all European.

Not only will South Korea and Japan decline, but in Australia the decline could be higher, as much as 15%. Investment has been flagging for several years there and the anticipated resurgence will not yet be reflected in H2 figures.

Polysilicon, the great bottleneck on PV production for the past year and the source of almost all of price increases, is being ramped up dramatically growing by 5.6% each month during the first half of 2022, but prices have remained high. Wafer makers are using thinner slices of Polysilicon, reducing wafer thickness from 175mm to 155mm which will cut polysilicon consumption by 6%.

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Chinese manufacturing now accounts for 80% of module and polysilicon, and 97% of the global total for wafers.

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