Asia to spur PV to 35GW – IHS

Asia’s blazing appetite for solar energy this year will more than offset flagging demand in Europe, dragging the industry towards supply-demand equilibrium more quickly than many earlier forecasts, according to market researcher IHS.

The world will add 35GW of PV this year, predicts IHS, representing 12% growth on the 31.4GW put up in 2012, itself higher than many previous estimates.

Critically, Asia will be the largest PV market globally in 2013 – the first time it has sat atop the league table in a decade, with China and India both growing strongly, and Japan once again emerging as one of the world’s key markets. 

“Demand outside of Europe will more than compensate for the fall in the continent,” says senior IHS solar research director Ash Sharma. 

Having accounted for 70% of global PV installations in 2011, Europe’s share of the market is on track to plunge to 37% this year, adding 13GW against Asia’s 15GW.

Growth looks “impossible” in former hot spots like Germany and Italy, Sharma says.  “Changes to Germany’s EEG and Italy’s Conto Energia are already in place, and a contraction in these two big markets is predicted in 2013,” he says. 

“Moreover, looming anti-dumping measures against Chinese manufacturers are taking their toll on Europe, resulting in price increases and additional registration paperwork that will further temper solar demand this year.”

However, while Sharma is far more bullish than many analysts regarding the global PV market in 2013, he remains sceptical about China, calling for about 6GW of new installations – compared to the country’s widely publicised 10GW target.  

Continuing difficulties in bringing mega-arrays onto the grid, and delays in developers receiving promised feed-in tariff payments, are “likely to hold back China”, Sharma says.

Indeed, grid issues in China and India are largely responsible for the discrepancy between the amount of PV capacity installed globally in 2012, and the amount actually brought on line. 

While more than 31GW was erected last year, just 27GW was connected to the grid, according to IHS – with 2.5GW of installed capacity sitting idle in China alone at the end of 2012.