Solar photovoltaic demand from the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is forecast to grow to 13.5 GW in 2013, growing 50% year-over-year, according to a new report from NPD Solarbuzz.
China, Japan, India and Australia remain dominant for PV demand in the APAC region and will account for 90% of APAC demand in 2013. However, discrete end-market demand environments are now evolving in each of these countries.
As a result, PV suppliers and technologies are being selected in each territory based upon factors such as domestic manufacturing, policies, import duties and customer preferences.
‘Having a single go-to-market strategy to meet growing PV demand across the entire APAC region is no longer viable,’ says Chris Sunsong, an analyst at NPD Solarbuzz. ‘Leading APAC countries are now evolving into micro-climates that create customized supply channels.
‘Suppliers are being forced to pick and choose the countries and application segments that overlap with their product portfolios and corporate strategies,’ he continues. ‘Quarterly cycles also continue to define PV demand, reflecting the effects of policy deadlines and weather-related seasonality.’
In Australia, the elimination of the Solar Credit Multiplier, along with incentive reductions in Victoria and Queensland, will slow PV growth this year, according to the report. In Japan, demand will peak during the first quarter, ahead of scheduled tariff reductions in April.
The Chinese government will likely readjust the goals of its 12th Five-Year Solar Development Plan, and the country will see over 75% of its 7 GW demand in 2013 occur in the second half of the year. However, it is crucial that any changes to the feed-in-tariff rates drive PV developers to complete their projects earlier in the year, thus avoiding the dramatic year-end demand swings experienced in the past, NPD Solarbuzz adds.
In India, the final version of Phase II of the National Solar Mission program is still pending. The country could see a capacity increase from 3.7 GW to 9 GW, with an increased focus on the off-grid and rooftop sectors.
The threat of further trade wars involving APAC countries, along with other import restrictions, is segmenting the APAC region into country and application-specific markets. Domestic content restrictions on imported modules into India may strongly affect crystalline silicon (c-Si) supply from China or any thin-film imports to India.
The APAC region is also becoming more selective about technologies, according to the report. In Japan, high-efficiency modules have become the preferred technology for locations with constrained space. In China, domestically manufactured multi c-Si modules are satisfying ground-mounted requirements.
In India, 1 GW of new demand will come from rooftop projects under Phase II of the National Solar Mission, which could further shrink this key market for thin-film suppliers.
‘There are various factors driving overall PV demand across the APAC region, but each country is still subject to a number of risk factors,’ says Sunsong. ‘For example, the Chinese and Indian markets are constrained by bank financing and grid accessibility, and Australia remains vulnerable to future policy shocks.’