Global solar PV module shipments are forecast to grow from an estimated 22.7 GW in 2011 to 43.8 GW in 2015 according to IDC Energy Insights’ Worldwide Quarterly Photovoltaic Module Tracker. At the same time that module prices are declining at a record-setting pace, large markets like China and India have doubled down on future solar plans and adopted extremely aggressive targets.
In 2009 and 2010, when the worldwide solar market was surging ahead, the discussion rarely ventured outside of European markets like Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and Spain. These countries accounted for nearly 80 percent of worldwide solar module sales over the last two years. However, recent changes to policies, prices, subsidies, and targets have drastically shifted the discussion of future growth opportunities from Europe to Asia/Pacific, with a large emphasis on the possibilities within China and India.
“Over the past year China has moved its solar energy target from 5 GW in 2015 to 10 GW, and there is discussion that the next 5-year plan set to publish in 2012 will again raise the bar,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, IDC Energy Insights Tracker products. “While Chinese solar manufacturers have been feeling the heat about the generous state loans they have been given access to, which many believe is a cause for the rapidly declining module prices, the notion that a great domestic opportunity lies ahead is unquestioned. The fact that seven out of the top 11 module manufacturers are Chinese companies means the fight for domestic projects will undoubtedly be a good one.”
The opening of new multi-GW markets for solar is a very positive development for the industry. “Given the continued dependence of the solar industry on government subsidies, multiple large markets reduce the risk that economic or political challenges in a single region will throw the industry into a tailspin,” said Jay Holman, research manager, IDC Energy Insights Renewable and Distributed Strategies. “The broader the market becomes, the healthier the industry will be.”
According to IDC Energy Insights most recent PV Module forecast, Asia/Pacific (including Japan) will grow from 22.9 percent of global module shipments in 2011 to 49.3 percent in 2015. Europe, which is expected to receive 66.4 percent of PV shipments in 2011, will decline to just 38.7 percent in 2015.
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