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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 2020 Q1/Q2 Quarterly Solar Industry Update presentation, released September 1, 2020:

  • China, the United States, India, Australia, and Germany collectively installed 24 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics (PV) in the first half of 2020, approximately the same level as in 2019.
  • Ten states generated more than 5% of their electricity from solar, with California leading the way at 21.7%.
  • The United States installed 7.2 GW (direct current) of PV in the first half (H1) of 2020, its largest H1 total ever—up 48% year-over-year.
  • The United States installed approximately 208 megawatt-hours (98 megawatts) of energy storage onto the electric grid in Q1 2020—down 34% year-over-year.
  • Despite tariffs, PV modules and cells are being imported into the United States at historically high levels, with 14.2 GW of PV modules and 1.3 GW of PV cells in H1 2020.
  • Since late 2019, a growing amount of PV imports into the United States are coming from China, despite continued tariffs.
  • Global module and module-component prices continued their declines through June; however, supply disruptions in the polysilicon industry caused PV modules and components to increase in price in July and August 2020. Even with the supply-chain price increases, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported global monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) module pricing below $0.20/watt and multi c-Si module pricing below $0.17/watt.
  • In Q4 2019, U.S. mono c-Si module prices fell, dropping close to their lowest recorded level, but they were still trading at a 71% premium over the global module average selling price.
  • Although solar stock gains made at the beginning of 2020 were erased with the downturn in the market in March, they have significantly outperformed the rest of the market since.
    • Analysts attribute these gains to good financial performance from companies, driven by stronger than expected global demand.


Presentations are available for download in PDF format below.