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Morgan Stanley says US could have 129GW commercial solar by 2018

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The installed capacity of solar PV in North and South America will increase more than tenfold over the coming years, jumping from 13.1 Gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to 138.8GW by 2030 – according to a new report from consulting firm GlobalData.

The research – which encompasses key solar players like the US, Canada and Brazil – also predicts that power generated by solar PV installations in the Americas will also experience a growth spurt, jumping from 21 Terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2013 to 234 TWh by 2030.

Big numbers, indeed. But will it really take until 2030 for this growth to happen? According to one Morgan Stanley analyst, the US market alone could have around 130GW installed within the next four years.

“We estimate that the commercial-scale solar market could be as large as 129GW in 2018, assuming that the investment tax credit (ITC) goes to 0% and utilities nationwide implement fixed charges on solar customers,” Morgan Stanley analyst Timothy Radcliff wrote on Tuesday, in connection with his decision to upgrade Sunedison stock to ‘overweight’.

We believe the market currently expects an ITC-driven rush through 2016, followed by a significant decline in volumes and margins.”

As GlobalData’s Tanikella notes, the US (along with Canada) is among the global leaders in terms of renewable power generation, due mainly to the policy support mechanisms of federal and state governments.

In 2013, he says, the US held the majority share of the region’s solar PV installed capacity, with 89.1 per cent, followed by Canada and Brazil, with smaller shares of 8.5 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

In Brazil, says Tanikella, the government uses auctions to encourage renewables development – it approved 122MW of solar PV capacity in its first solar-only auction in 2013, with solar projects receiving $98 per Megawatt-hour for power generation.

Mexico, meanwhile, is also supporting renewable power development, its government establishing a National Energy Strategy for policies to be implemented over the next 15 years, to increase the country’s electricity generation from non-fossil sources by 35 per cent.

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