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.

    Download the latest report: Fall 2021 Quarterly Solar Industry Update

    Key updates from the Fall 2021 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released October 20, 2021:

    Global Solar Deployment 

    • In the first half (H1) of 2021, photovoltaic (PV) installations increased significantly, year-over-year (y/y), for many leading markets: 
      • China installed 13 gigawatts-DC (GWdc) in H1 2021
      • India installed 4.6 GWdc in H1 2021—more than it installed in all of 2020. 

    U.S. PV Deployment 

    • The United States installed 7.4 gigawatts-AC (GWac) (10.8 GWdc) of PV in H1 2021—its largest H1 total ever. 
    • During H2 2020–H1 2021, 11 states generated more than 5% of their electricity from solar, with California leading the way at 24.3%. 
    • The United States installed approximately 1.9 gigawatt-hours/0.6 GWac of energy storage onto the electric grid in H1 2021, up 279% y/y, as a result of record levels of residential and front-of-the-meter deployment (mostly in California). 
    • As of Q4 2020, over 231,000 U.S. employees spent the majority of their time on solar, with another 86,000 U.S. jobs spending under 50% of their time associated with solar. 

    PV System and Component Pricing 

    • In 2020, the ranges in average U.S. PV system pricing across methods were reported to be: 
      • $2.7/watt (W) to $3.7/W for residential
      • $1.4/W to $2.9/W for nonresidential 
      • $0.9/W to $1.1/W for utility-scale 
    • In 2021, power purchase agreements for U.S. utility-scale PV systems are priced at $20/megawatt-hour (MWh) for projects in California Independent System Operator (CAISO)/non-ISO West, and $30-$40/MWh for projects elsewhere in the continental United States. 
    • At the end of September, the spot price of polysilicon was $31/kilogram – its highest mark in 10 years. The increased price of polysilicon is driving up wafer, cell, and module pricing, however not nearly to the same degree, with prices still below what they were 2 years ago. 
    • In Q2 2021, U.S. monocrystalline silicon (mono c-Si) module prices rose $0.01/W, quarter-over-quarter, and were flat y/y— trading at a 59% premium over global average selling price. 

    Global Manufacturing 

    • In H1 2021, U.S. c-Si module production dipped 7% y/y, while thin-film (i.e. cadmium telluride) production peaked, increasing 57%, y/y: 
      • In H1 2021, c-Si and thin film manufacturing had a utilization rate of 49% and 95%, respectively. 
    • 13.8 GW of PV modules were imported into the United States in H1 2021, down 3% y/y. 
    • 1.4 GWdc of cells were also imported in H1 2021, up 11%.


    Presentations are available for download in PDF format below.