Asia-Pacific to account for 60% of global PV demand

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The total solar PV demand from the five leading Asia Pacific (APAC) markets – China, Japan, India, Australia and Thailand – is on track to reach 17.2 GW during the second half of 2014, accounting for almost 60% of global solar PV demand, according to findings in the latest NPD Solarbuzz Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report.

While solar power has been growing across the APAC region, 95% of the demand in 2014 stems from the top five countries.

"China, Japan, India, Australia and Thailand are forecast to rank in the top 10 global PV markets," says NPD Solarbuzz senior analyst Ray Lian. "China and Japan are dominating demand, with about half of all new PV capacity added this year."

Seasonally strong demand from China is responsible for the majority of share gains in the APAC region during the second half of 2014, according to the report. While NPD Solarbuzz predicts that about 80% of PV demand in China will come from ground-mounted projects, it points out that the commercial rooftop market segment is experiencing slower growth than the Chinese government had initially anticipated. The National Energy Administration has recently announced new policies to support development of distributed generation PV projects, especially rooftop projects.

In Japan, the pipeline of approved PV projects stands at 59 GW. Actual demand from the country is forecast to exceed 5 GW in the second half of 2014 due to a range of factors, including qualified land resource, financing and grid connectivity.

"Falling PV system costs, together with high feed-in tariff rates, continue to provide attractive PV project economics within the Japanese PV market," says NPD Solarbuzz analyst Holly Hu. "While the Japanese government reviews the progress of the approved project pipeline, PV installations will continue to accelerate quickly during the next few quarters."

While demand growth in China and Japan is strong, India, Australia and Thailand are experiencing greater challenges. "The Indian government recently opened the bidding process for PV projects under the country’s National Solar Mission Phase II Batch II; however, policy uncertainties have delayed solar PV demand in India for the past six months,” Hu says. "On a positive note, the Indian government recently avoided potential problems that may have arisen if anti-dumping duties had been imposed on imported Chinese silicon-based PV modules."

Annual demand from Australia and Thailand is forecast to decline in 2014, due in part to pending renewable-energy policy changes and investor uncertainty. However, a year-end boost is expected in the large-scale ground-mounted segment in Australia. Ground-mounted projects at Nyngan and Broken Hill in New South Wales, developed by AGL/First Solar, are expected to have a total nominal capacity of 155 MW-AC.

Outside the major solar markets in the APAC region, more countries in Southeast Asia are starting to develop solar PV capabilities, including the Philippines and Indonesia. In Pakistan, the first 100 MW phase of the 1 GW Quaid-e-Azam solar projects has also started installation.