Solar Photovoltaic (PV) market trends in 2021 – What are the future trends and which sectors and companies are hot right now?
While Covid-19 may have slowed down the global economy since 2020, the decarbonization of the electricity and automotive industries, and the associated investment in renewable energy, have accelerated. A study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IEA) found that investment in renewable energy sources in 2020 was 7% higher than the previous year.
Focusing on just solar, China and the US have the most significant presence, with 254 MWh installed in China at the end of 2020. In Japan, although the average selling price of solar modules sold in the country is decreasing, the market for it has remained relatively stable, with 67 million kW installed in 2020, the third-largest in the world after China and the US.
In this article, we will discuss the trends and prospects for the solar photovoltaic industry in 2021, as well as the general structure of the industry and the companies involved.
Trends and prospects for the solar photovoltaic market
According to the "Market Research Report" released in 2020, the global solar energy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2019 to 2026, reaching $223.3 billion by 2026. The solar energy market is expected to grow, driven by increasing environmental pollution and the provision of government incentives and tax rebates for the installation of solar panels. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has also began to consider making the installation of solar power in new homes compulsory.
In addition, the reduction in the water footprint (the amount of water required for production) associated with solar energy systems is driving demand in the power generation sector. In recent years, both individuals and companies have increasingly displayed interest in the installation of solar cells on their rooftops.
The demand for parabolic troughs and solar power towers is expected to drive the demand for concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems. Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems, which track the sun and collect it with a lens, are the next generation of thin, light, and stable photovoltaic devices that have been increasingly introduced in recent years in areas of high temperature and high solar radiation.
With the development of photovoltaic power distribution systems, competition among manufacturers has intensified. The price of photovoltaic modules in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region also differs significantly due to the demand-oriented nature of the market. Furthermore, there has also been a decline in the price of solar panels due to the reduced profitability of module manufacturers and takeover stress in the market. The fluctuating price of silver, the main raw material for solar modules, has also boosted the demand for the installation of solar panels and thus the growth of the solar energy market.
Development in the field of solar energy storage systems
The development of photovoltaic storage systems is essential if photovoltaic systems are to replace existing conventional power sources. As the demand for photovoltaic installations increases, so will the installation of energy storage systems, which will increase the demand for lithium-ion batteries for solar energy storage. This will further drive the growth of the solar energy market.
Growing demand for cost-effective solar cells
Amorphous silicon cell solar cells (manufactured using amorphous silicon, which has higher mechanical strength, wear-resistance and electrical properties than conventional cells), have overturned the conventional wisdom that solar cells are expensive and can only be used for special applications. They are currently being installed and used in an increasing number of solar panels. This market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Demand for CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide, one of the most commonly used materials in solar cells) is also expected to increase by 2028 due to the increasing number of cost-effective solar panels. Furthermore, the demand for cadmium telluride (an inorganic compound used as a material in photovoltaic cells) is also expected to increase due to the low cost of production and increased efficiency of photovoltaic modules.
Structure of the solar photovoltaic industry
We know that many of you are interested in working for or with companies involved in the solar photovoltaic industry. We’ve broken down the solar photovoltaic industry into smaller categories and introduced some of the companies involved in each of these sectors:
1. Power companies (e.g. TEPCO)
This includes both major power companies and new power companies.
2. Panels (Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, NDS Corporation, Toshiba Plant Systems Corporation, etc.)
Although many people may think of major electronics manufacturers such as Kyocera Corporation, most of the major players in the panel industry that are actually active in the world are overseas players, mainly from China. On the other hand, consumers tend to choose domestically produced panels when they are installed on residential roofs, resulting in domestic companies leading in Japan.
3. Power electronics (Omron Corporation, Panasonic, TMEIC, etc.)
Since power conditioners are supposed to be replaced after a certain period of time, domestic manufacturers are relatively popular. On the other hand, in the U.S. and other countries, products with a good balance of cost and function, such as HUAWEI products from China, tend to be chosen.
4. Mounting (Huge Energy Technology Co., Ltd, Hyper Energy Co., Ltd, etc.)
Currently, Chinese manufacturers dominate the market due to their cost advantage. In Japan, JIS standards are being revised and guidelines are being developed for ground-mounted solar photovoltaic systems, including design guidelines and structural design examples.
5. Trading companies (Fuji Electric Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., etc.)
Those with a strong presence in the renewable energy sector, ranging from promotional companies to large trading companies, are involved in a wide range of transactions in addition to those related to components.
6. O&M (Adler Solar Works Ltd., Exxor, etc.)
This field is called Operating & Maintenance. In recent years, there has been a growth in the number of contractors specialising in maintenance, particularly for large solar photovoltaic systems.
7. General contractors (Shimizu Corporation, Kajima Corporation, etc.)
This refers to major general contractors who are involved in large-scale projects of mega-class and above. In Japan, construction companies with revenue of hundreds of billions to trillions of yen are generally referred to as "general contractors". They are categorized as "super general contractors", which consist of five major companies such as Kajima Corporation and Shimizu Corporation, "semi-major general contractors" such as Maeda Corporation and Nishimatsu Corporation, and "medium-sized general contractors" such as Toyo Corporation and Tobishima Corporation.
8. Listed renewable energy companies (Renova, REITs, etc.)
In addition to independent companies, there are also a number of well-known renewable energy companies and REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) that specialize in renewable energy listed on the stock exchange. As these companies have to disclose information about them publicly, those who are interested can read in detail what each company is specializing and doing.
9. Low-voltage national companies (Ecostyle Co., Ltd., etc.)
These are companies that are involved in a wide range of low voltage projects across Japan, mainly low voltage power stations.
10. Community-based companies (ISUZU Corporation, Chiba Eco Energy Co., Ltd., etc.)
These are construction companies that carry out electrical work mainly in the local areas.
11. Companies involved in monitoring systems (e.g. Chiba Eco Energy Co., Ltd.)
These are companies that deal with monitoring systems that measure the amount of electricity generated, and various other types of systems such as those for high and low voltage. Various types of remote monitoring systems are handled from major big players to smaller companies. In recent years, services that have emerged aggregate different types of information from different companies with a view to the "internet of electricity" and "blockchain".
12. Storage battery-related companies (Nichicon, Murata Manufacturing, etc.)
These companies deal with systems that store electricity generated by solar power during the day in storage systems to be used at night or other times. In particular, the major players in the industry are manufacturers that supply batteries to automobile manufacturers. Each of these companies sells a variety of different types of products. In the United States, the installation of residential energy storage systems has started, and will likely grow further and become more competitive.
Are you looking to move into the solar PV sector?
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