China’s increasing PV consumption

22. January 2013 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets | By:  Jonathan Gifford

While President Obama's remarks about supporting renewable energy grabbed headlines, data is emerging which is confirming China’s increasing role as an end market for photovoltaic modules, according to industry analysts NPD Solarbuzz. In Q4 2012, China consumed 33% of global shipments, according to the report.

Chinese PV industry at a conference.

China is emerging as a major end market for photovoltaics, causing manufacturers to rethink market strategies.

In its Solarbuzz Quarterly report, NPD Solarbuzz confirmed that China has risen from a relatively minor photovoltaic end market, to a major player. The latest figures show that China is now consuming one third of the modules produced globally.

"Just two years ago, the Chinese end-market was less than 10% of global PV demand," said Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz in a press release announcing the figures. "However, during Q4 2012, a third of all global PV panel shipments ended up in China. This is the start of a new chapter for the solar industry, with China potentially taking center stage in both the upstream and downstream channels."

To access this new demand market, NPD Solarbuzz has advised that manufacturers will need new strategies to better serve this shifting demand dynamic. "The Chinese end-market has different module supplier preferences, pricing expectations, and routes to market. However, threatened by the impact of global trade barriers, the biggest challenge will fall on Chinese manufacturers that are restricted to domestic demand only," said Barket.

NPD Solarbuzz cited slowing European demand and domestic Chinese policies in support of photovoltaics as the factors driving the shifting demand.

Global photovoltaic demand increased to 8.3 GW in the quarter and NPD Solarbuzz observes that demand from China is "heavily back weighted." Q4 demand comprised 60% of annual demand from China. Inventory levels also declined 4% from Q3 2012 as a result of this demand.

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