In its latest Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report, NPD Solarbuzz states that in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011 alone, Asia Pacific installed 2.8 GW of photovoltaics. Looking ahead to 2012, it expects the region to grow by a further 40 percent.
Specifically, Chinas solar market has progressed at an impressive rate, with installations growing 500 percent over 2010, leading it to claim 48 percent of the six GW installed. NPD Solarbuzz says that the planned 13 percent feed-in tariff (FIT) reduction at the end of the year led to 1.7 GW being installed in Q4.
"Low factory gate module prices and favorable project returns led to a flurry of installations, while the project pipeline has now grown to 20 GW," commented the research company in a statement released. It adds that due to the high amount of installations, it is likely the Chinese Central Government will make policy adjustments this year.
Despite its problems, Japan emerged as the second biggest Asia Pacific region in 2011, having added 1.2 GW of newly installed photovoltaic capacity to its grid. This represented an annual growth rate of 30 percent. As before, its residential market accounted for the lions share of installations, at 70 percent.
NPD Solarbuzz believes that Japanese solar market growth will rise in 2012, by 40 percent. In particular, while the new rates have not yet been released, the new FIT law focused on large-scale installations, has ignited interest. "The market is also being reshaped by a dramatic increase in the number of foreign module suppliers," it said.
Ranked as the third largest regional market in Asia Pacific, Australia is, unfortunately, one of the few markets not displaying growth. According to NPD Solarbuzz, installations fell by 10 percent quarter on quarter in 2011, and Q1 2012 installations are forecast to fall by a further 20 percent, due to incentive reductions implemented in the first half of 2011. Overall, it believes that the market will decrease by 30 percent over the year.
"The retrenchment of solar PV incentive policies across the country has left many downstream installers stranded with evaporating demand and many firms have ceased operations," explained the company.
All is not doom and gloom, however, as it is predicted that by 2013, the market will pick up again as large-scale ground mount projects come online.
As was widely reported in 2011, India is a major emerging solar market. Currently, it ranks fourth in Asia Pacific. Q4 saw installations grow by 125 percent on the back of looming project development deadlines. Although there are still many project delays, NPD Solarbuzz believes that Q1 2012 could see as much as 600 megawatts (MW) added to the grid. For the full year, it says that the market could approach one GW of installed photovoltaic capacity.
"While rapid PV price declines have greatly improved project economics over the course of 2011, many Indian developers have suffered setbacks due to difficulties associated with financial closure, land acquisition, and power evacuation facilities. Now developers will need to race to meet their installation deadlines or face the prospect of losing their PPAs, leading to a surge of activity in December and January," commented analyst Chris Sunsong.
Other emerging markets like Thailand, Korea and Taiwan accounted for 500 MW of demand in 2011. NPD Solarbuzz expects this to double this year, as markets like Malaysia and the Philippines start to play a more important solar role.