American solar power powers on
Solar photovoltaic generation expands in the Americas as capacity installations more than double
Dark times for oil and gas?
The annual solar photovoltaic installations in key Americas countries are expected to grow at 5.5 per cent, generating $141.2 billion in annual investment by 2022. Backed by strong regulatory activity aimed at adjusting incentives and support mechanisms, solar has extended beyond the traditional markets of the US and Chile to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. The annual installed capacity reached 12.8 GW in 2017, and the total generation capacity, which currently stands at 59.0 GW, is likely to more than double to 141.3 GW by 2022.
"The multiple supportive mechanisms and electricity regulatory frameworks across the region have made market participants diversify strategies, encouraging business model innovation. Solar PV and storage expansion will become increasingly attractive propositions as battery system costs decline further,” said Maria Benintende, Senior Analyst for Energy & Environment at Frost & Sullivan.
Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Americas Solar Power Market, Forecast to 2022, presents an in-depth examination of select solar power markets across the Americas countries of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and the United States. Market size metrics and forecasts to 2022 are presented for total installed capacity, annual capacity additions, and annual investment for two types of projects: utility-scale and distributed generation (DG). The study also analyzes the regulatory environment and key players in each country, and identifies technologies, trends, drivers, and restraints affecting the market.
DG annual additions are likely to outstrip utility-scale at a compound annual growth rate of 9.9 per cent, driven by supportive policies, falling technology costs, increased end-user awareness, market maturity, and higher electricity prices. Benintende notes that in Brazil, Mexico, and Chile, especially, maturing DG schemes are creating significant opportunities for equipment suppliers, installers, and other energy participants.
"Renewable auctions are key to solar development in the region," noted Benintende. The investments in solar in 2018 are estimated to have touched $4.2 billion across the Latin American countries; however, to make the most of their potential, suppliers need to develop a strong local strategy. This can be a huge differentiator in a region where interpersonal relations are important."
Countries across the Americas’ region are at different stages of development but are all driven by the rising price competitiveness of solar technology, net metering policies, decarbonization of the energy matrix, and diversification goals. The growth opportunities in the select countries include:
The US: The solar market is strong and autonomous and is forecast to expand at 8 GW to 10 GW per year until 2022. Despite the restraint of import duties, utility-scale installed capacity will continue increasing due to low system costs.
- Canada: The country has preferred natural gas and wind power to solar. Participants need to consider expanding outside of Ontario.
- Mexico: The rising economy and energy demand, the need for a cleaner energy matrix, substantial solar resources, and falling PV system prices are prompting installations in Mexico in both utility-scale and DG PV systems.
- Argentina: In the past two years, it became an attractive market for PV due to its renewable energy (RE) auctions and the revival of private power purchase agreements (PPAs) for RE. However, current bottlenecks in transmission grids, coupled with financial and economic constraints, increase risks, affect funding and, therefore, slow down solar PV expansion.
- Brazil: The DG sector is anticipated to outpace the utility-scale segment in annual capacity by 2020.
- Chile: It has one of the best business case scenarios for RE. Larger DG solar PV plants, known as PMGD, will be the key investment opportunity in solar in the short and medium terms.
- Colombia: The market is still emerging, but positive macroeconomic conditions and recent regulations for DG and utility-scale projects are attracting developers, suppliers, and investors.
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