The global solar market is expected to continue its growth in 2018. The U.S. alone accomplished a milestone in 2017, reaching 49.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity by Q3 and expected to install another 12 GW by the end of the year. As more states realize the potential of solar energy, and solar-plus-storage deployments gain traction in both residential and utility-scale projects, approximately 106 gigawatts of new PV is expected to go live in 2018, making this year the global solar market’s first-ever triple-digit year, according to GTM Research.
According to an analysis by GTM Research, the tariffs on imported solar cells and modules set forth by the Trump administration will result in an 11 percent decrease in U.S. solar PV installations over the next five years. This represents a reduction of 7.6 gigawatts of installed solar PV capacity between 2018 and 2022 versus previous forecasts. With predicted 10 gigawatts in 2018 the US solar market will still be the number two worldwide.
Incentive programs at the state level are going to attenuate the tariffs impact. There are 29 states in the U.S. with renewable power mandates, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, and eight more with renewable goals. California is closing in on its 2020 renewable energy mandate, which stipulated that the state’s utilities must get 33 percent of their energy from renewables. The state has a target of 50 percent renewables by 2030.
Many analyst groups, including GTM Research, believe that while the 30 percent tariff on international solar imports will slow U.S. solar development, they will not destroy solar energy’s future. As the market adjusts to the new pricing structure, solar will see continued success in the long-term and, while industry growth will not be as sharp as in past years, it will continue slowly and steadily. The tariff will likely reduce new solar construction in the U.S. in the short term, but the increasing economic advantages of solar energy will help the industry thrive in the long term.