Asian solar to grow 13.5GW in 2013

7GW solar forecast for China (photo Suntech)

7GW solar forecast for China (photo Suntech)

Solar photovolataic (PV) demand from the Asia Pacific region is forecast to grow 13.5GW in 2013, surging ahead 50% on 2012, according to a report by NPD Solarbuzz.

China, Japan, India, and Australia remain dominant for PV demand in the region, according to NPD Solarbuzz Q1’13 Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly, and will account for 90% of Asia Pacific demand in 2013. However, the region is becoming less homogenized in terms of its market demands, with PV suppliers and technologies being selected in each market based upon factors such as domestic manufacturing, policies, import duties, and customer preferences.

“Having a single go-to-market strategy to meet growing PV demand across the entire region is no longer viable,” said Chris Sunsong, analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. “[Asia is] now evolving into micro-climates that create customized supply channels. Suppliers are being forced to pick and choose the countries and application segments that overlap with their product portfolios and corporate strategies. Quarterly cycles also continue to define PV demand, reflecting the effects of policy deadlines and weather-related seasonality.”

Solar PV demand in Asia Pacific (source NPD Solarbuzz)

Solar PV demand in Asia Pacific (source NPD Solarbuzz)

According to NPD Solarbuzz, the Chinese government will likely re-adjust the goals of its 12th Five-Year Solar Development Plan, and the country will see over 75% of its 7GW demand in 2013 occur in the second half of the year. However, it is crucial that any changes to the feed-in-tariff rates drive PV developers to complete their projects earlier in the year, thus avoiding the dramatic year-end demand swings experienced in the past.

The threat of further trade wars involving Asia Pacific countries, along with other import restrictions, is segmenting the region into country and application-specific markets. Domestic content restrictions on imported modules into India may strongly affect crystalline silicon (c-Si) supply from China or any thin-film imports to India.

The region is becoming more selective about technologies. In Japan, high-efficiency modules have become the preferred technology for locations with constrained space. In China, domestically manufactured multi c-Si modules are satisfying ground-mounted requirements. And in India, 1GW of new demand will come from rooftop projects under Phase II of the National Solar Mission, which could further shrink this key market for thin-film suppliers.

“There are various factors driving overall PV demand across the region, but each country is still subject to a number of risk factors,” said Sunsong. “For example, the Chinese and Indian markets are constrained by bank financing and grid accessibility, and Australia remains vulnerable to future policy shocks.”

About James Ockenden (225 Articles)
A writer covering international energy and power markets since 1996
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