2017: The PV year in review
Overall, the solar PV industry continued to go from strength to strength, with 2017 recording many impressive developments and world-firsts. The biggest news came from China, where its unparalleled installation activity surpassed even the most optimistic of forecasts. Mexico’s record-breaking low auction price was another dominant headline this year, although it was overshadowed by news of insolvency by the two biggest U.S. solar manufacturers,Suniva and SolarWorld, and their subsequent Section 201 trade case.
In the technology realm, monosilicon’s stellar rise to become the dominant module type was definitively a highlight, although half cut cells drew a lot of attention too. On the back of the news that NexWafe attracted even more funding, kerfless wafers are a technology to watch in the coming years.
Read on to discover how the year in solar PV unfolded month by month, and what 2018 is expected to bring:
Cheap as chips
The first month of 2017 brought with it news that solar is on course to become the world’s cheapest source of energywithin the next 10 years. The dramatically falling costs from the supply chain to the final product could see the average global price become cheaper than coal within the next 10 years, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
A number of hot stories hit the headlines in February, thus breaking the doom and gloom of, arguably, the worst month of the year, including the news that SolarCity would be marketed under the Tesla brand. The announcement came two months after Tesla’s shareholders voted to acquire the U.S. residential solar PV rooftop company.
In the anti-dumping arena, it was announced that theEuropean Commission would propose shorter AD tariffs on Chinese solar firms. An 18 month tariff period proposal was put to the 28 EU Member States. They had just under a month to decide whether to approve the move or not.
Days later, Mexico signed the lowest solar contract to date. Overall, contracts were signed for 1.8 GW, including one at a price of US$26.99/MWh by Fotowatio. The median price for solar in this auction was around $31.70/MWh – the lowest to date in the world.
Not to be outdone, Armenia announced it would make its first foray into the world of solar, with a 40 to 50 MW PV power plant. Over the year,N the country saw a flurry of activity – the latest news in December was that work had been completed on Armenia’s third large-scale solar PV plant – with plans for 2018 accelerating development further.