PV demand in China and Japan to reach 9 GW in second half of 2013

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The new findings presented by market research group NPD Solarbuzz in its Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly shows that the Asia Pacific region (APAC) will exceed 16 GW in terms of demand during 2013, an increase of 90% year-to-year. This will make up over 40% of global PV demand. Strong shipment numbers to key Asian markets is thus expected to restore PV market confidence after the onslaught of trade wars and insolvency announcements.

China and Japan are reported to lead this record PV demand representing a forecasted total of 9 GW during the second half of this year. This is a 100% increase in demand compared to the first half of 2013 and a 70% increase compared to the second half of 2012.

"The record level of PV shipments to China and Japan coincides with corporate margins returning to positive territory and the final shakeout phase of uncompetitive manufacturers nearing completion," said Finlay Colville, vice president of NPD Solarbuzz. "Having entered 2013 with a highly cautious outlook, tier-one suppliers are poised to exit the year with restored confidence, ahead of optimistic shipment and margin guidance for 2014."

China’s rooftop boom

It looks like it will be China’s year for PV with NPD Solarbuzz forecasting China to become the top country for PV deployment this year. In the second quarter of the year, rooftop installation demand in China exceeded ground-mounted installations for the first time. This has been stimulated by government plans to boost distributed PV generation. Strong ground-mounted deployment growth is expected from developers like China Power Investment, China Guangdong Nuclear, and Three Gorges Group once project financing and grid accessibility issues are settled.

Active Japanese market

NPD Solarbuzz added that the Japanese market continues to be the most active PV market this year growing 150% compared to the previous calendar year. Over 5 GW of installations is forecasted to be in the pipeline in the first half of 2014. The commerical and utility segments have been driving PV demand in Japan in the second half of the year, accounting for a 65% market share compared to the same period a year ago, when the residential segment dominated with over 75% of demand.

On Tuesday, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) reported it had approved almost 19 GW of commercial rooftop and ground mounted solar installations between July 2012 and April 2013.

Some strain is showing

Even though China and Japan are driving the demand with project pipelines, the APAC region’s PV demand is highly dependent on the FITs in these two countries. The Japanese market, according to NPD Solarbuzz, is showing some strain with reports of module shortages and developers being forced into remote geographic areas. "End-market growth in China and Japan has become essential to support domestic manufacturers and project developers, in addition to contributing to renewable targets," added Colville. "However, we do not yet know how far the subsidies will be reduced during 2014 or how much capacity can be added before market caps on annual PV installations will become necessary."

Othe APAC markets like Australia and India are currently being affected by policy disruptions according to NPD Solarbuzz. India is prone to delays in Phase II of the National Solar Mission, the ongoing anti-dumping case, and the prospect of reduced feed-in-tariff (FIT) payments. Within Australia, forthcoming elections and uncertainty over the future of the carbon tax and the Renewable Energy Target are also hindering growth.