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Global PV installations grew by 35% in 2015 to 59GW.

17% growth forecasted for 2016.


United States


  • Third largest global market in 2015
  • 25GW cumulative installations

United Kingdom


  • Largest market in Europe for the second year running
  • 8.7GW cumulative installations



  • Largest global market in 2015
  • 43GW cumulative installations, the world’s largest



  • Second largest global market in 2015
  • 36GW of cumulative installations by the end of 2015


According to market analysts IHS, global PV installations grew by 35% in 2015 to 59GW and are expected to grow a further 17% in 2016 and reach 69GW. By the end of 2016, cumulative global installed PV capacity will surpass 310GW, compared to just 40GW at the end of 2010. Five countries account for 70% of this capacity, being China, the USA, Japan, Germany and Italy. With annual installations slowing, Germany will fall from the second largest installed capacity to the fourth largest, overtaken by the USA and Japan.


China was again the leading PV market in 2015 and installed 15.1GW. In doing so China now has a total of 43GW of PV capacity according to the National Energy Administration. The country’s PV capacity has increased roughly 13-fold since 2011 to now become the world’s largest. Germany, formerly the global leader, has slipped to second place with installed capacity of 39.6GW according to the country’s Federal Network Agency.


In 2009, the Japanese Government set PV installation targets of 28GW by 2020 and 53GW by 2030, while 10% of total domestic primary energy demand should be met by PV by 2050. Then, in 2012, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (“METI”) introduced a generous FIT programme to boost the uptake of solar. Japan added roughly 12.3GW of solar capacity in 2015, with installations expected to peak at 14GW in 2016, but to gradually decline from 2017 as grid access, financing and land acquisition become more difficult, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (“BNEF”). Cumulative installations in Japan reached 36GW by end of 2015.


The USA installed 7.3GW in 2015, which was slightly below market expectations but brought cumulative installations to over 25GW, up from 2GW in 2010. The US House of Representatives has passed an amendment to extend the solar Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) until 2022. The tax credit rate under the ITC was originally to be scaled back from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016. Under the amendment, ITC will be extended to 2022, during which the rate will be reduced gradually and subsidies given will vary according to the installation schedules of each PV system. As a consequence the US market will not now see the initially anticipated installation rush in 2016, followed by a sharp demand decline that was also expected to drag down the global PV market in 2017. Energy Trend, therefore, has lowered the US installation forecast for 2016 from 11.5GW to 9GW.


The UK installed 3.9GW in 2015 and was the largest market in Europe for the second year running accounting for almost 50% of the 8GW installed in the region. Cumulative installations reached 8.7GW by the end of 2015, making the UK the third largest in Europe after Germany and Italy.


The French PV market continues to show modest growth, and France now hosts Europe’s largest solar PV installation located across 250 hectares near Bordeaux. The 300MW facility will produce solar energy cheaper than new nuclear plants.

France’s Ministry of Energy, Ecology and Sustainable Development (“MEDDE”) has released data which shows 879MW of PV was installed in 2015 making France the third largest market in Europe. MEDDE also reports that a further 559MW of PV plants have signed interconnection agreements but have not yet been connected to the grid. Total installed capacity reached 6.5GW by the end of 2015.

In December 2015 the French Government announced the results of its CR3 tender and awarded 800MW of PV projects which must be completed within a two-year period. The carbon footprint of the complete module is a critically important factor for these projects. A new PV tender is expected to be released in early 2016.

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International trade disputes

There has been little change in the disputes that have plagued the PV industry in recent years. China has maintained its anti-dumping duties of up to 57% on polysilicon imports. The highest duties are applied to imports from the USA while some Korean companies receive only relatively modest duties of 2.4%. Imports from German company Wacker Chemie are spared duties because of “price commitments” given to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”).

The USA maintains duties on imports of Chinese modules which were first imposed in 2012. In July 2015, however, the US Department of Commerce announced some adjustments to the anti-dumping (“AD”) and anti-subsidy rates (“AS”) which resulted in most tier 1 companies receiving modest cuts to AD rates which were partially offset by increases to AS rates. The net outcome is that combined tariffs of around 30% are now applied.

The European Commission (“EC”) has launched an expiry review of anti-dumping measures imposed on imports of Chinese PV modules which were introduced in 2013. The measures, which included a minimum module price of €0.56/W agreed in a negotiated settlement, were due to expire in December 2015. Following complaints that dumping would likely resume if the price agreement was removed, the measures will continue while the EC conducts an investigation which must be completed by March 2017.

Following an investigation launched in mid-2015, the EC concluded that Chinese firms have been circumventing European trade anti-dumping and subsidy duties by transhipping PV modules via Malaysia and Taiwan. The EC found that modules imported into the EU from non-cooperating companies and those found to be falsifying origin in the two countries accounted for 16% of EU module imports. Anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of 53.4% and 11.5% have been imposed respectively for those firms found to have been enabling circumvention of duties. Importers will be liable for duty payments on non-compliant modules backdated to May 2015 when the investigation was launched.

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