Solar Magazine – The 5 big trends in solar panels to keep an eye on in 2022

The worldwide demand for solar panels is growing 20 percent, polysilicon prices and demand are holding each other in a stranglehold, old production lines are being eliminated, solar panels with n-type solar cells are advancing.

Furthermore, the combined application of solar panels and energy storage is growing steadily. These are the 5 major trends for the calendar year 2022 that the Chinese market research firm PV InfoLink foresees. The editors of Solar Magazine spoke to chief analyst Corrine Lin.

imbalance
In 2021, a structural imbalance between the upstream and downstream segments in the value chain led to price increases for materials such as silicon and eva foil. “As a result, prices of solar panels continued to rise at the end of the calendar year, which led to lower demand in the last quarter,” said Lin. “Due to higher-than-expected demand in America and Europe in the first half of the calendar year – combined with Chinese demand of 47 to 48 gigawatt peak – demand for solar panels may have risen to 164 gigawatt peak in 2021.”

70 gigawatt peak in China
According to Lin, China will also be the most important sales market in 2022. “It is being driven by supportive policies, renewable energy funds, countywide promotion of distributed solar, and 100 gigawatt utility projects in the desert. We expect Chinese demand to be around 70 gigawatt peak in 2022. The promotion of distributed PV will thereby boost the demand for commercial and industrial roof-mounted PV projects in the second half of the year. Utility-scale projects in the desert are expected to get off the ground in 2023.”

Strong domestic demand will grow China’s market share from 29 to 37 percent, according to PV InfoLink. Sales in Europe and America will also continue to grow to 40 and 30 gigawatt peak respectively. Lin: ‘Other regions will experience steady growth, with global demand increasing by 20 percent or more to reach 196 to 212 gigawatt peak. The developments surrounding US import duties and possible investigations into their circumvention could influence demand.’

polysilicon
World trade and the power shortages in China will also cause uncertainty in 2022. “If the impact of power rationing next year is minor, polysilicon prices will set the pace of solar panel price declines,” said Lin. High gross margins will enable polysilicon manufacturers to work to bring new and already announced production capacity online. The annual production of polysilicon will then reach a level of about 700,000 tons, which translates into a supply of about 255 gigawatt peak. That seems sufficient to meet the demand.’

As vertically integrated manufacturers increase their in-house wafer production capacity and new entrants do the same, the demand for polysilicon from the wafer segment will increase. Lin: ‘Since it takes 3 to 6 months to commission new furnaces, polysilicon prices will not fall very quickly in 2022 due to the tight supply in the first half of the calendar year. This does not alleviate the cost pressure on solar panel manufacturers.’

Headlock
While polysilicon prices aren’t likely to fall any time soon, PV InfoLink does expect prices to decline quarter after quarter. ‘After all, the supply of polysilicon will increase every quarter due to the expansion of production capacity,’ says Lin. ‘If the prices for solar panels remain high due to the silicon price, developers and EPC contractors can postpone their projects for as long as possible in order to be able to buy solar panels at a later date at lower prices. The solar panel prices and the demand for solar panels therefore keep each other in a stranglehold; the demand for solar panels can only increase further if solar panel prices fall significantly.’

Read the full article ‘The 5 major trends in solar panels to keep an eye on in 2022’ in the Solar Magazine Market Guide Solar Energy 2022 here.

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