A total of 59 GW of solar PV capacity was installed worldwide in 2015 – a 34 per cent increase over 2014 – according to a new report from GTM Research

The report, based on preliminary data, shows a strong upswing in the market towards the end of the year, driven partly by increased demand in the US. GTM Research cites the extension of the US federal Investment Tax Credit in December as a contributing factor, and says the figures show the importance of government support for the solar industry.

“The fourth quarter of 2015 showed that global PV demand is very much at the mercy of government support, which can often be unpredictable and idiosyncratic, leading to often negative but sometimes positive outcomes,” said Mohit Anand, a senior solar analyst with GTM Research.

GTM Research says the US market will grow rapidly as a result of the tax credit extension, taking its share of expected global PV demand between 2015 and 2020 from an average of 10 per cent to 15 per cent. Conversely, GTM has tempered its forecasts for Japan, the UK and China due to cuts to solar feed-in tariffs.

According to the report, emerging markets such as India, Brazil and Mexico will play a greater role in the global PV market in 2016 and beyond. Smaller players such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh in Asia and Uruguay, Guatemala and Panama in Latin America could also make a significant contribution as they try to break through to 100 MW.

“We also have to keep in mind the importance of COP21 for the diversification of global markets for PV, especially across emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa,” said Anand. 

“Many of those countries have pledged substantial goals for deploying renewables and mitigating climate change, and PV is seen as a quick, cost-effective and scalable opportunity within that.”

GTM Research says it expects 64 GW of PV to be installed globally in 2016, taking the cumulative worldwide PV total to 321 GW.