New Asian PV markets set to open

The beleaguered global PV industry is set for a significant demand boost over the next few years from emerging economies across Asia-Pacific and central Asia, a disparate group that will soak up more than 3GW a year by 2017, NPD Solarbuzz predicts.

By comparison, the region – which includes developing economies from Indonesia to Kazakhstan, though not China and India – notched up demand of 723MW last year.

In addition to the overall expansion of new markets across the region, the type of installations is also changing dramatically, notes Solarbuzz analyst Steven Han.

In the past, the PV market in countries like Thailand, the Philippines and Bangladesh, was dominated by solar-lighting and residential schemes. But future demand will be based on the "widespread adoption of large-scale, ground-mounted PV installations,” says Han, with the segment set to account for 64% of the market by 2017.

Thailand will lead the pack, fuelled by its rapidly growing demand for electricity and limited domestic fossil fuel resources. But Han flags up a number of others markets not currently on the radar of most suppliers and developers as offering strong growth potential, including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

Another reason for cheer is the region's high level of policy fragmentation. In the past, the lack of co-ordination between various governments and market actors throughout the region has hampered growth in the past. But today, the diversity of pro-PV initiatives adds to the overall stability of the market.

The opening of new, sustainable markets is seen as key to the future health of the global PV industry, which relied for many years on a handful of stalwart demand centres such as Germany and Italy.

Solar energy is “well understood by policymakers” in developing economies across Asia-Pacific, Han notes, thanks in part because of the significant upstream PV manufacturing that has taken root in recent years in places like Taiwan and Malaysia.