China Expected to Outperform Germany in Solar PV Capacity

China is expected to add new solar PV installation capacity of more than 19 GW this year, bringing the total PV installation capacity to above 60 GW, outperforming Germany to become the world’s largest country in terms of the aggregate PV installation capacity.

The country is forecast to maintain the position as the world’s largest PV cell product producer this year, with exports for PV cells and components rising about 5 percent year on year to more than US$15.0 billion.

China recorded combined exports and imports of solar PV cells amounting to US$17.9 billion for 2015, a slight year-over-year decrease of 2.3 percent. Of the total, US$14.7 billion accounted for exports, up 1.9 percent from a year earlier while US$3.18 billion were imports, down 17.7 percent year on year.

Specifically, the country recorded solar PV cell exports in the form of general trade amounting to US$8.18 billion for the same period, representing a year on year increase of 28.8 percent and accounting for 55.7 percent of the country’s total exports. Processing trade of the cells amounted to US$5.92 billion for the same period, down significantly by 21.9 percent year on year and accounting for 40.4 percent of the country’s total.

Regionally, China exported US$2.24 billion worth of solar PV cells to Europe during the year, decreasing 20.4 percent compared to the previous year and accounting for 15.3 percent of the country’s total. Exports of the cells to Asia rose to US$8.86 billion during the same period, increasing 12.8 percent from a year ago and accounting for more than 60 percent of the total. Exports to emerging markets in Latin America surged to US$900 million during the same period, up 84.2 percent compared to the previous year, representing the largest growth among the country’s major export destinations.

Of note is the export of US$3.86 billion worth of PV cells to Japan during the year, accounting for 26.3 percent of the total and representing a year-over-year decrease of 20.8 percent. India accounted for US$1.38 billion in PV cell exports, up significantly by 163 percent year on year and accounting for 9.4 percent of the country’s total. Exports to the U.K. dropped to US$570 million during the same year, down 36.4 percent from a year earlier and ranking sixth among the country’s export destinations.

China produced 43 GW of PV components in 2015, accounting for 71.7 percent of the world’s total production volume and ranking first worldwide for the seventh consecutive year.

China now exports over 60 percent of its PV cell products to overseas markets, showing a relatively higher degree of dependence on foreign trade. Although the government has put in place a series of policies and measures to invigorate the PV industry, the country still faces many hurdles, including difficulties in obtaining sufficient financing, high construction costs, disputes over property rights and long payback periods.

Lead image credit: Photovolts | Flickr