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China Becomes World's Largest PV Market

According to the Global New Energy Development Report 2014, China has surpassed Germany as the world's largest PV market. The report, which was prepared by Hanergy Holding Group and China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, provided a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the global renewable energy market.

The global PV market saw 38.7 GW of new capacity installed in 2013, bringing the cumulative installed PV capacity to 140.6 GW, the report said. New PV installations in China saw the addition of 12 GW in 2013, up 232 percent year on year, demonstrating that the global PV market has gradually shifted from Europe to Asia.

The global new energy industry experienced sustained growth in 2013, as governments aligned their national energy mix to eliminate pollutants and improve the ecological environment, China New Energy Chamber of Commerce vice president Zeng Shaojun said. Chinese companies will be investing more heavily in technological advances and accelerate their pace of going global, in an effort to increase their shares in the global new energy market, Zeng added.

Since 2012, Chinese regulators have been releasing a series of policies and measures, including the State Council's Opinions on Promoting the Healthy Development of the PV industry, significantly propelling the development of the country's solar power market. As of the end of 2013, China's grid-connected solar capacity reached 14.79 GW, up 340 percent year on year.

During the previous few years, China's PV export demand had plunged on weak economic growth in Europe and the U.S., lower subsidies for exports to major European and U.S. markets as well as protectionist policies. However, the PV industry took a favorable turn in 2013 thanks to the country's optimization of its export structure by shifting to emerging markets. China's exports of solar cells and modules to Asia surged 124 percent year on year to US $5.5 billion in 2013, accounting for 44.8 percent of the total, while those to Europe fell 62 percent to US $3.72 billion. During that same year, the country exported US $570 million of solar cells and modules to Africa, up 387 percent from the previous year.

In 2013 many industry players, including Ningxia Sunshine Silicon Industry, were forced to declare bankruptcy due to a severe overcapacity in the global PV market. The exit of weaker competitors brought about a higher market concentration, giving an impetus to a new round, yet, more structured development of China's PV industry.

China's PV industry is expected to see a continued recovery in 2014, as economies in Europe and the U.S. stabilize and demand from emerging markets increases. The National Energy Administration announced on May 22 that the country aims to add 14 GW of installed PV capacity in 2014, up 24 percent from 2013.

Lead image: Solar panels via Shutterstock

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