Asia-Pacific PV markets forecast to grow 85 percent this year

The key emerging country markets of China, India, South Korea and Australia, together with the long established Japanese market, contributed 0.9 gigawatts (GW) of installations last year, or 12 percent of world demand, said the report. After a policy-led reduction in demand in South Korea last year, all five of these country markets are now expected to return to growth in 2010. Additionally, demand across the three countries will be up 85 percent this year in the mid-case Green World scenario.

"Japan is set for very strong growth in 2010 with clearly set out new incentives for photovoltaics," said Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz. "The expectations for China and India remain high. However, their challenge will be to translate their long pipeline of projects, now just on paper, into reality through government incentive policies that are certain and at a level high enough to attract financing."

PV growth in Japan stimulated by new government initiatives

For the first time in three years, the Japanese market showed a significant increase last year, continued the report. The domestic market more than doubled in 2009 to 477 megawatts (MW) as a result of the re-launch of a nationwide residential incentive program and the introduction of a Japanese version of a feed-in tariff (FIT) during the year. The FIT was originally planned to be launched from this April, but to further accelerate the deployment of the domestic PV market, the government pushed it forward and started the program last November. Additionally, said the report, as of last December, over 400 regional governments (prefecture, city, town or village) offered residential PV support programs, including subsidies and loans as well as utility buy-back schemes and further assistance through utility Green Power Funds.

China achieves 228 MW in 2009, up 552% Y/Y

With the help of Solar Rooftops and Golden Sun programs in mid-2009, the PV market in China also experienced strong growth, achieving 228 MW. The growth was driven by the emergence of a significant on-grid segment, building-mounted and ground-mounted systems supported by specific government programs, explained the report, with the largest provincial markets being Ningxia and Jiangsu. Specifically, on-grid building-mounted segments rose from a 33 percent market share in 2008 to 88 percent in 2009. As of this June, a total of 95 listed projects that are under development with National Energy Administration approval totaled 18.6 GW with more tender bids pending.

India’s off-grid rural segment

The Indian PV market grew 22 percent year on year (Y/Y), reaching 44 MW last year, continued the report. Despite this, the growth was lower than expected, with incentive programs lacking success. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) released its National Solar Mission, outlining planned growth of the PV market to 20-22 GW by 2022. While the global financial crisis had a moderate affect upon government funds allocation, national elections during 2010 slowed several government bureaus to a halt, delaying procurement and distribution activities until later in the year. Nonetheless, the project pipeline stands at 4.9 GW at this June.

South Korea market drops dramatically in 2009

The report went on to say that South Korea’s PV market decreased in size by 65 percent falling from 276 MW in 2008 to just 98 MW in 2009. With over half of the aggregate 500 MW program cap reserved in just the first few months of launch for a program initially designed to ramp up steadily through 2011, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) was “forced” to establish an annual installation cap. This caused the collapse in installations, said the report. Additionally, in September 2009 the FIT rates were adjusted downward for the 2010 – 2011 period to reflect falling module prices and encourage greater numbers of smaller, building-mounted systems.

Australia PV growth driven by residential market

Consumer demand in the residential sector drove Australia’s PV market in 2009, concluded the report, growing 222 percent Y/Y to 74 MW. Specifically 80 percent of all capacity installed was for on-grid residential use. As the majority of Australia’s electricity is produced with cheap coal, PV market growth in recent years was "steady, rather than explosive". The Australia government revised its Solar Flagships program-aiming to commission 150 MW of PV power by 2015. In addition, every region has, or will have, a PV-specific FIT or net-metering policy this year.