Solar power makes headlines almost everyday somewhere around the world. Some of the biggest headlines are grabbed by the biggest projects, like the 500 megawatt Topaz Solar Farm in California. But perhaps it’s the sheer amount of commercial and utility photovoltaic (PV) projects planned or under way that should really grad people’s attention. That number is 4,300 and consists of 95 gigawatts of PV that is underway or in planning stages, according to NPD Solarbuzz’ most recent Global Deal Tracker Report.
While those big projects make the big headlines the overwhelming majority of PV projects slated for or under construction are made up of smaller projects. The tracker shows that only 21 percent of the 4,300 projects consists of those larger than 20 megawatts. “While projects in excess of 50 megawatts account for most of the solar PV pipeline capacity, smaller projects up to five megawatts can typically be approved and completed within a matter of months, making this segment particularly interesting to suppliers and developers," said to Chris Beadle, NPD Solarbuzz.
This is consistent with some analysts and solar companies’ previous projections, which anticipated that most solar farms in the future would be up to about 20 megawatts and not necessarily 100s of megawatts of size. The largest solar plants are currently making waves because they were able to show utilities and the world that solar electricity can indeed be sized like a utility-scale power plant, which utilities are more used to dealing with.
Such plants don’t really play to solar’s strengths, which include being able to produce power where needed, like on a distribution line instead of needed new, high-voltage infrastructure to move the power produced over many miles. Plus smaller plants are more quickly deployable making them much more easy to bring online in a quick fashion. Moreover as more of the world speeds toward raising their economy—partly by becoming electrified, they don’t have same needs for centralized power plants.
“With global PV demand still concentrated among just a few countries, sales and marketing efforts will achieve the greatest rewards when they are aligned with projects that have the best chance for near-term deployment,” explained Finlay Colville NPD Solarbuzz vice president.
The new Solarbuzz report found that demand for the projects will remain strong in some of the leading markets. In Asia those will include China, Japan, India, Thailand, and Australia). In the Americas, demand will remain strong in the U.S. and Canada. And in Europe demand will be strongest in Germany, U.K., Italy, and France. The report anticipated that those markets will comprise 80 percent of PV demand over the next five years.
“Understanding the status of the project pipeline within the leading global markets is critical to component suppliers and project developers seeking to participate in the high-growth solar PV industry,” Colville said.Tweet