China: Utility-dominant PV landscape changing

In its latest China Deal Tracker, NPD Solarbuzz writes that self-sustained power generation is growing on the back of non-residential building-mount photovoltaic applications, which were said to total over 400 at the end of last month. Overall, it says that 700 such projects are in the pipeline.

While China’s solar market has been dominated by the utility sector, NPD Solarbuzz says planned non-utility commercial photovoltaic projects now comprise the lion’s share of projects, "a further indication of the growing trend towards non-utility-driven PV adoption".

This trend is expected to help open the market – typically difficult to enter – to overseas companies. "The growing share of non-utility commercial projects will provide new opportunities for a wider range of module, inverter, and other balance-of-systems component suppliers," says the company in a statement released.

It adds, "Access to the Chinese PV market by overseas systems integrators is now more viable, which is fortunate at a time when sales pipelines in major European PV markets are at risk from policy uncertainties. However, identifying the most suitable PV projects and partners, and understanding the mechanics of the different bidding processes within China will be key factors for all companies targeting these new opportunities."

Until 2016, NPD Solarbuzz predicts that both the utility and corporate sectors will continue to drive China’s solar industry. "However, the corporate segment is now forecast to exceed the utility segment in 2013," it writes.

Furthermore, it says that with 58 percent of the market share, ground-mounted photovoltaic systems will remain the largest sector in the country in 2012, followed by large building-mount applications.