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Solar Photovoltaic Demand to Reach 31 Gigawatts in 2013

Solar photovoltaic (PV) demand will increase two gigawatts (GW), from 29 GW to 31 GW during 2013, up 7 percent Y/Y according to the new NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013. For the first time, China will outpace Germany to become the leading PV consumer, while the top 10 PV territories will still account for 83% of global PV demand.

2013 will represent another transition year, as the PV industry adjusts to softness across legacy European markets. The Chinese end-market will largely compensate for the downturn in demand from Germany, which previously led PV demand.

Global Shift in PV Demand

Due to further reductions in European premium incentives, demand in this region will fall to approximately 12 GW, which is a 26 percent Y/Y decline. In contrast, new policies across leading PV countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, led by China, Japan, and India, will stimulate regional growth of over 50 percent and account for more than 11 GW of PV demand in 2013.

In 2013, we expect to see improvement in the market fundamentals that enable PV demand to return to double-digit growth. Installed-system prices will continue to fall, and PV will become increasingly cost competitive across regions with high electricity rates, shortages in domestic supply, and growing renewable obligations to fulfill.

According to the NPD Solarbuzz report, new PV opportunities from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and other emerging regions will have a stronger impact on global demand from 2014 onwards. Emerging regions are forecast to account for less than 8 percent of global demand during 2013; however, this market share is expected to double by 2017, driven primarily by South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Israel, and Mexico.

Figure 1: Geographic Breakdown of Global PV Demand in 2013

Source: NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013

Fragmentation of the Supply Chain

Further fragmentation of the supply chain for PV modules and balance-of-systems components is expected across a range of addressable markets due to shifts in geographic access, new and ongoing import trade barriers, and changes in PV application segments.

Global trade wars and excessive local manufacturing capacity levels will create micro-environments for PV supply and demand, with each PV supplier serving only a subset of the 31 GW demand total.

Ground-Mount Installations Dominate

Ground-mount installations will dominate the market in 2013 with 45 percent of PV demand. These installations are being driven by policies that favor utility-based deployment. Strongly influenced by Japan, Germany, Australia, Italy, and the UK, overall market share for residential PV in 2013 will remain above 20 percent. These five countries will account for three-quarters of all residential PV installations this year, which highlights a broad geographic pull and emphasizes the continued importance of distributed generation.

This article was originally published on Solarbuzz and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Business graph via Shutterstock

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Michael Barker monitors the status of the global PV industry supply/demand balance and watches related emerging trends. His responsibilities include the Solarbuzz Quarterly and Marketbuzz reports. Barker is also a regular contributor to leading PV...

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