With the rapid development of emerging ICT technologies, such as AI, cloud, big data and 5G, and taking full account of the latest trends in power electronics technology, Huawei collaborated with experts in the field and published 10 emerging technical trends for smart PV in 2025. These trends encompass four dimensions: the leveled cost of electricity (LCOE), the usability of the power grid, smart convergence and security and reliability. The trends aim to lead the industry towards smart and green solutions and to give a glimpse of the innovation and meteoric growth of the new energy industry.
Trend 1: Digitization
Key point: Over 90% of the world’s photovoltaic plants will be digitized.
Despite the burgeoning global photovoltaic market, there are still many stupid devices in photovoltaic power plants, from power generation to communications. These devices cannot be effectively monitored and cannot provide a fault alarm. With the rapid development of digital technologies such as 5G and the cloud, more than 90% of photovoltaic installations will be fully digitalized by 2025, which will allow photovoltaic installations to be simple, intelligent and efficient management.
Trend 2: Smart AI-based upgrades
Key point: More than 70% of photovoltaic installations will apply AI techniques.
The deep integration of AI and PV will facilitate mutual detection and interconnection between devices, and will improve power generation and O&M efficiency through collaborative optimization. Artificial intelligence techniques can offer promising new avenues for photovoltaic systems, including: proactive identification and protection of module and photovoltaic device faults with artificial intelligence diagnostic algorithms; optimization of the tracking algorithm with massive plant data and self-learning for higher yields; and an AI-assisted solar storage synergy to automatically optimize revenues from photovoltaic storage facilities. As the LCOE continues to decrease and the complexity of operation and maintenance increases, AI techniques will most likely be widely applied in photovoltaic power plants.
Trend 3: unmanned photovoltaic systems
Key point: Over 80% of the work in photovoltaic power plants will be unmanned.
With the rise of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), intelligent products and services will bring convenience to the entire PV solution. Thanks to integrated expert experiences and continuous self-learning, AI will be widely deployed to replace O&M experts in many diagnostic and decision-making functions. Drone inspection and robot-based automatic O&M will deal with dangerous and repetitive O&M work that requires a high degree of continuous precision, for increased productivity and safety in photovoltaic installations. As estimated, the PV plants are expected to be unmanned in the future.
Trend 4: Proactive management of electrical networks
Key point: Photovoltaic plants will go from adapting to the grid to supporting the grid.
The increasing level of penetration of energy with electronic power interface will undermine the strength of the power grid, hampering the wider application of PV systems. Over the next 5 years, photovoltaic power plants must gradually evolve from adapting to the electrical network to supporting the electrical network. To this end, inverters should have capabilities such as the adaptability of the wide short-circuit ratio (SCR), the ability to control the harmonic current at 1%, the consecutive high / low voltage crossing and the rapid regulation of the frequency, which are necessary for connection to the network.
Trend 5: solar + storage
Key point: The proportion of photovoltaic systems coupled with energy storage will exceed 30%.
With the increasing penetration of new sources of energy, electrical networks will have increasingly stringent requirements for frequency regulation and shaving peaks. In the meantime, battery costs decrease with the advancement of technology. Energy storage is expected to work in tandem with photovoltaic systems and become an essential component. Projections indicate that by 2025, the proportion of PV systems with energy storage will exceed 30%.
Trend 6: Virtual power plants
Key point: Over 80% of residential systems will connect to virtual power plant (VPP) networks.
Over the next 5 years, ICT technologies, such as 5G, blockchain and cloud services, will be widely applied in distributed power plants, forming VPPs for collaborative management and participating in planning, transactions and services auxiliaries for electrical systems. The development of VPP technology will inspire new business models and attract new market players in distributed PV scenarios, serving as a growth engine for distributed PV.
Trend 7: active safety
Key point: The arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) will become an essential feature of photovoltaic systems distributed on roofs and will be incorporated into international industry standards.
With the wider application of distributed PV, the safety of buildings and people has become a major concern. The risks of photovoltaic arcing caused by poor contact of nodes in PV modules, poor connections of PV connectors or aged or broken cables have become an urgent issue in the industry. To mitigate these risks, AFCI will become a standard feature for rooftop photovoltaic systems and will be incorporated into international industry standards.
Trend 8: higher power density
Key point: The power density of the inverter will increase by more than 50%.
With the downward trend in solar LCOE, there are higher demands in terms of higher power from a single module and easy maintenance of inverters. To do this, a higher power density is required. With breakthroughs in the research of high bandwidth semiconductors, such as SiC and GaN, as well as advanced control algorithms, the power density of inverters is expected to increase by more than 50% over the next 5 years.
Trend 9: Modular design
Key point: The basic components such as inverters, PCS and energy storage devices will adopt a modular design.
Inverters, PCS and energy storage devices are key components of a photovoltaic system, which significantly affect the availability of the entire system of the photovoltaic system. As the capacity and complexity of photovoltaic power plants increase, the traditional, expert-led approach to on-site maintenance will be too costly. Modular design will become commonplace, as it allows flexible deployment, smooth expansion and expert-free maintenance, significantly reducing operating and maintenance costs and improving system availability.
Trend 10: safety and reliability
Key point: Safety and reliability have become a necessary requirement for photovoltaic power plants.
The increase in the cumulative capacity of global photovoltaic plants and the greater complexity of the network architecture, which increases the security risks of the network of photovoltaic plants. In addition, there are more stringent privacy and security requirements for distributed PV systems. All these trends suggest that photovoltaic power plants must have security and reliability capabilities in terms of reliability, availability, security, safety, resilience and confidentiality.
Our common desire to explore as human beings knows no bounds. We are always looking to reach new heights, to dive into deeper depths and to seek new truths. The convergence of 5G, cloud and AI technologies is shaping a world where everything is detected, connected and intelligent at a faster speed than we think. By listing the top 10 PV industry trends for 2025, Huawei hopes to play its part in inspiring the creation of a green and intelligent world, in which the limitless potential of new energy solutions can be widely shared in society.