Asia-Pacific PV market to reach record level in fourth quarter

Market research group Solarbuzz predicts quarterly solar PV demand in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region will reach the 10 GW level for the first time in the fourth quarter.

According to Solarbuzz’s latest Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report, annual APAC PV demand in 2014 will grow 19% over the previous year, driven mainly by a year-end installation rush in China as well as strong growth in Japan.

Solarbuzz adds that APAC PV demand will continue to grow and maintain shares in global PV market at more than the 50% level in 2015.

China has contributed the most demand in the APAC PV market in the fourth quarter, although the country’s PV demand was weaker than expected in the first three quarters. Solarbuzz points out that ground-mounted projects still dominate the Chinese market as the building-mounted segment supported by distributed PV subsidies slowly builds up.

"Although the National Energy Administration recently announced that only 3.8 GW PV systems were connected to the grid during the first three quarters of 2014, many projects have already begun construction," said Isabella Ni, China analyst for Solarbuzz. "With a year-end surge of installations in the fourth quarter, even after three weak quarters, full-year PV demand in China will exceed its 2013 level."

PV demand in Japan during 2014 is forecast to grow 46% year-over-year in 2014 due to favorable government incentives, according to the Solarbuzz report. Project pipelines also provided strong support to the Japanese PV market, reaching more than 56 GW through the end of the third quarter.

"Since the end of the third quarter, five regional utilities in Japan announced suspension of replies for non-residential projects; however, these issues will not significantly impact PV demand in Japan through 2015,” said Holly Hu, China analyst at Solarbuzz.

Total demand within the five utility regions accounts for about 35% of Japan’s demand in 2014. PV projects that have already received approval for grid connection are not affected.

In India, the Minister of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) proposed increasing the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) target from 22 GW to 100 GW by 2020. Twelve states also announced their ultra-solar park plans, with about 20 GW of projects in the pipeline.

"India may become the most exciting PV market in APAC region during the next several years," Hu said. "Since the new prime minister, Narendra Modi, came on board, the government of India has announced many ambitious solar PV development plans."

In Australia, the new Renewable Energy Target (RET) is still under negotiation, while residential installations are driving PV demand in Q4 2014 to their highest level. Meanwhile, the ground-mount segment is also increasing, driven by construction of three large-scale, ground-mount projects.

"The new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which potentially may resolve the trade dispute with China on PV panels, is also good news for the Australia PV market," Ni said.

Thailand and the emerging APAC PV markets are also showing growth potential in the coming years.

Solarbuzz, which was recently acquired by market research group IHS, also forecasts the ground-mounted segment to increase its market share in emerging markets as large projects are currently planned in the Phillippines, Pakistan and other countries.