China, Japan shore up global market as Europe declines

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In its quarterly review of PV installations, the firm predicted that installations will grow by 22% over 2014 to 46 GW. This new figure is an increase of 5 GW on that predicted last October but broadly in line with predictions from December. IHS has identified 32 countries that will install more than 100 MW in 2014, with seven of those exceeding 1 GW.

IHS increased its forecast in light of recent policy changes in China and Japan. The former’s National Development and Reform Commission said recently that it would increase its target for ground-mount projects, while IHS found that the outlook for commercial and ground-mount sectors in Japan was more robust than previously thought.

Ash Sharma, senior director of solar research at IHS, said, “IHS previously expressed its doubts about the Chinese government’s capability to reach an ambitious target of 8 GW worth of rooftop solar projects in 2014. While IHS still predicts this goal will not be met, China’s recent announcement that it will shift its focus to ground-mount projects and increase its installation target for this segment to 6 GW has led us to raise our forecast for 2014.”

He added, “IHS expects the residential PV market in Japan to decline this year. Although the reduction in Japan’s feed-in-tariff conformed precisely to IHS expectations, other factors will cause the residential market to decline. These factors include the increase in sales tax on domestic PV systems, the expiration of the additional up-front subsidy and the slowdown in new housing construction.”

Total installations within China will reach 13 GW in 2014, reports IHS, compared to 10 GW last year. The firm also predicted that of that total, 4.8 GW will be rooftop projects and 8 GW will be ground-mounted.

European fall

However, the situation within Europe remains dire with installations within the region declining for the third year in a row. From its peak of 19 GW in 2011, it should fall to 9.7 GW this year. As a result, IHS has slashed its European forecast by nearly 700 MW largely to reductions in Germany and the ongoing political unrest in Ukraine. This pessimism contrasts with the exuberance displayed by NPD Solarbuzz in November.

Overall, the prospects for long-term growth should remain unchanged, with Sharma saying that double-digit annual growth should be expected over the next five years with total installed capacity exceeding 400 GW by the end of 2018.