Sweltering temperatures and a ton of sun aren’t enough to make this a good year for solar, with Goldman Sachs chiming in—again—with a dismal prediction: Global solar installations will decline by 24 percent this year, the analysts say.
It’s not the first time this year that Goldman has come out with a negative picture for solar. And Goldman isn’t alone, even if it is throwing around the worst numbers. (Credit Suisse is forecasting a 17-percent decline, while Bloomberg NEF is anticipating a 3-percent decline).
If Goldman is right, it will be the first real solar market contraction, and China is making the biggest dent in demand because it took 20 gigawatts of projects offline in May, sending global installations down to 75 gigawatts from 99 gigawatts last year, Bloomberg reported, citing Goldman Sachs analyst Brian Lee.
“Lowering our coverage view to cautious, we believe oversupply is set to continue in the near-to-medium term as demand from the largest solar markets remains tepid,” Lee wrote.
Last month, Goldman said it expected a 40-percent drop in sales volumes in China. That’s a massive drop in a country that accounts for half of the global market for solar equipment and modules. Additionally, Trump tariffs on imported panels and modules are likely to lead to drops in demand in Japan, India, and the United States.
Solar victims of the U.S.-China trade dispute are already emerging. A case in point is Norway’s REC Silicon (REC.OL), which on Thursday reported a quarterly pre-tax loss of $374 million for Q2, compared with a $60-million profit the previous quarter, Reuters reported.
The company said the loss was “due to the market disruption from the curtailment of solar incentives in China, as well as continued trade barriers that prevent access to primary markets inside China”.
Even if Goldman’s doom-and-gloom scenario doesn’t make reality by the numbers, many investors will be wondering if it’s time to disembark from “solar coaster”, or wait for what’s next in the boom-and-bust cycles.