Quarterly Solar Industry Update

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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 2018 Q3/Q4 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released February 7, 2019:

  • By the end of 2018, Hawaii, California, the District of Columbia, 104 cities, 11 counties, and 51 American companies in the United States had made 100% clean power commitments.
  • In 2018, renewables generated more electricity (41%) in Germany than coal (38%) for the first time.
  • An International Energy Agency (IEA) report projects 4.3 gigawatts-AC of global concentrating solar power installations from 2018 to 2023.
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates 23% of all new electricity generating capacity in the United States came from solar installations in 2018—second to natural gas.
  • Utility-scale photovoltaics (PV) contributed 39% to Q3 2018 U.S. PV installations—its lowest level since Q1 2012.
  • In January 2019, the California investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) declared bankruptcy
  • Roughly three gigawatts of new or refurbished U.S. PV manufacturing capacity is expected to come online in 2019. Historically, actual production capacity brought online has often taken longer and/or been lower than originally reported.
  • In January 2019, global module average selling price was reported to be $0.22 per watt.
  • In 2018, solar stocks were down 28% compared to 1% performance decline by the S&P 500 Index.
  • 2018 global and U.S. solar investment were $132 billion and $21 billion respectively—the vast majority of which went to project deployment.


Presentations are available for download in PDF format below.