Asia key to 2014 PV forecasts

With less than two weeks left in 2013, analysts are cementing their optimistic predictions for PV installations in the new year, with Asia set to emerge once and for all as the new global demand driver.

The world will add 40GW-45GW of new PV in 2014, sparking a resurgence in spending on PV production tools, says market researcher IHS.

That compares to the 37GW or so likely added in 2013, up from 7.3GW just five years ago.

Critically, more than half of 2014 demand will come from the Asia-Pacific region, with 2013 representing the “final chapter in the transition from historic European domination”, says Steven Han, an analyst with rival research firm NPD Solarbuzz.

The APAC region will add 23GW of PV next year – more than half of it in ground-mount installations – against 18GW or so this year, says NPD Solarbuzz.

By comparison, the EU’s high-water mark came in 2011, when it added 19.2GW on the back of the German and Italian feed-in tariff booms.

Asia’s commanding performance will come in spite of the likely failure of China to meet its targets distributed PV, analysts say.

The pivot in demand towards Asia is a watershed for the global PV industry.

As Chinese and Taiwanese companies came to dominate the PV manufacturing game during the last decade, many long-term players – and especially those in Europe – excoriated Asian governments for not taking stronger steps to stimulate domestic demand.

More than 80% of the PV panels produced in 2014 will come from the APAC region, where even many Western or erstwhile Western companies, such as First Solar, SunPower and REC Solar, have built factories in recent years.

Latin America will be another standout performer in 2014, adding 1.4GW of new capacity – up from an estimated 300MW this year – on the strength of largely unsubsidized installations in Chile and Mexico.

Some 700MW of unsubsidized PV will be added globally next year, predicts IHS.