Manufacturers will be quids-in from July

Market research company IHS is predicting an explosion in solar demand in the second half of the year that will see manufacturers start to benefit from July onwards.

IHS says record low system prices and key policy changes in the crucial Chinese and UK markets will drive a record installation rate of almost 15 GW in the October-to-December period with solar manufacturers reaping the benefits from July onwards as they ship the components needed to meet that demand.

China will remain the world’s biggest solar market, according to IHS, thanks in part to a new policy to drive expansion of the country’s smaller-scale distributed generation market.

Analysts at IHS have stated China’s 8 GW target for distributed generation this year is too ambitious given problems with financing options, grid infrastructure and rooftop ownership rights, with 4-5 GW a more realistic figure. But IHS says a policy to remove some of the roadblocks could be introduced as early as July and will help drive the solar superpower to 13.1 GW of new installations this year, with around 70% of the figure arriving from July onwards.

The booming UK market – scrambling to install large scale projects after the government’s announcement it will review the access of such schemes to ROC payments two years ahead of schedule – will see it overtake long-time world leaders Germany as the world’s fourth biggest solar market this year.

Renewable Obligation Certificates are issued for every MWh of renewable elctricity generated and serve to meet electricity companies’ renewable obligations as well as securing access to a portion of the penalty payments fund which suppliers falling short of their renewable obligations pay into.

ROC solar gold rush

The threate of withdrawing such incentives from developers of large scale projects will prompt a solar gold rush to complete several gigawatts’ worth of megawatt scale farms in the UK before the tax year ends on March 31, according to IHS.

The UK will pick up the slack from Germany, which will slip to fifth place, says IHS, because of a reduction in FIT payments available to developers in Germany who have already been hit by last summer’s minimum price agreement with the manufacturers of previously bargain-basement-priced Chinese products which helped power the German market. IHS is predicting German installations this year will fall to 2.5 GW of the 46 GW it says will be installed worldwide.

The market research company also says Japan, which will remain the world’s second largest solar market this year, and the UK dominated installations in the January-to-March period – supplying 42% of the market – because of a rush to complete schemes by the time two two countries’ April-to-March tax years ended.

Installations in Q1 were down 17% on the previous – record – quarter’s return of 12.7 GW but IHS says the second half surge in demand will set a new record in the October-to-December accounting period, with 9 GW of the almost 15 GW of new solar installed coming from MW-scale systems.

According to IHS, the U.S. will remain the world’s third largest solar market in 2014.