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Each quarter, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducts the Quarterly Solar Industry Update, a presentation of technical trends within the solar industry, to the solar office staff. Each presentation focuses on global and U.S. supply and demand, module and system price, investment trends and business models, and updates on U.S. government programs supporting the solar industry.

Key updates from the 2019 Q2/Q3 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released November 12, 2019:

  • While most analysts estimate an increase in global photovoltaic (PV) installations in 2019, projections range from 105 gigawatts-DC (GWDC) to 130 gigawatts-DC.
  • In October 2019, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported 6.9 gigawatts of concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants were installed worldwide, and another 1.7 gigawatts of capacity are expected to come online by 2023.
  • In the first half of 2019, the United States installed 4.8 gigawatts-DC of PV, a 3% increase over the first half of 2018.
    • Analysts estimate U.S. solar installations in 2019 will be between 11 gigawatts-DC and 14 gigawatts-DC—a significant increase over 2017–2018.
  • Eight states generate over 5% of their electricity from solar, with California leading the way at around 19%.
  • The United States installed approximately 438 megawatt-hours (226 megawatts) of energy storage onto the electric grid in the first half of 2019—up 55% year-over-year.
  • From the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019, EnergySage reported a 4% reduction in the average gross cost of a residential PV system, which fell to $2.99/watt.
  • PV modules and cells are being imported at historically high levels, with 14 gigawatts of total imports of PV cells and modules now available to the U.S. market.
    • If PV cell imports stay at current import levels for the rest of the year, they will fall just short of the total Section 201 exclusion for exempting the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells, by the end of the term.
  • In the first half of 2019, U.S. crystalline silicon (c-Si) and thin-film module production reached historical highs—up 3.9 times and 1.2 times respectively, year-over-year.
  • In Q3 2019, PV module and component prices fell to historical lows again, with multi and mono c-Si module average selling prices (ASP) falling to $0.21/W and $0.24/W in September, respectively.
  • U.S. multi and mono c-Si module ASP were 52% and 54% higher than the global average, respectively.


Presentations are available for download in PDF format below.