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 2020 Q2/Q3 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released December 8, 2020:

  • The median estimate of 2020 global photovoltaic (PV) system deployment projects an 8% year-over-year (y/y) increase to approximately 132 gigawatts-DC (GWdc).
  • The United States installed 9 gigawatts-AC (GWac)—11.1 GWdc—of PV in the first 9 months of 2020—its largest first 9-month total ever.
  • At the end of September, there were 67.9 GWac (87.1 GWdc) of solar PV systems in the United States.
  • Based on Energy Information Administration (EIA) data through September 2020, 49.4 GWac of new electric generating capacity are planned to come online in 2020, 80% of which will be wind and solar; a significant portion is expected to come in Q4.
  • EIA estimates solar will install 17 GWac in 2020 and 2021, with approximately 13 GWac from large-scale PV.
  • The United States installed approximately 497 megawatt-hours (266 MWac) of energy storage onto the electric grid in the first half (H1) of 2020, up 3% y/y, as a result of record levels of behind-the-meter deployment.
  • The median residential quote from EnergySage in H1 2020 fell 2.4%, y/y to $2.85/watt (W)—a slower rate of decline than observed in any previous 12-month period.
  • Even with supply-chain disruptions, BloombergNEF reported global monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) module pricing around $0.20/W and multi c-Si module pricing around $0.17/W.
  • In Q2 2020, U.S. mono c-Si module prices fell, dropping to their lowest recorded level, but they were still trading at a 77% premium over the global average selling price.
  • Despite tariffs, PV modules and cells are being imported into the United States at historically high levels—20.6 GWdc of PV modules and 1.7 GWdc of PV cells in the first 9 months of 2020.
  • In H1 2020, U.S. PV cell production decreased 66% from H2 2019 and virtually no panels were produced in Q2 2020.


Presentations are available for download in PDF format below.