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Major regional markets (i.e. China, the U.S. and Japan) and other emerging markets continue to drive the demand growth of this year’s photovoltaic (PV) market. The latest report by EnergyTrend, a division of TrendForce, says that the five largest regional markets for the first half of 2015, as listed in order, are China, Japan, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. India has also caught the attention of the PV sector as its demand growth is quickly catching up with those of the major markets. However, India is currently outside of the top five because it is behind in market development. EnergyTrend’s PV installation capacity forecast for the second half of 2015 finds that growth will flatten for the U.K. and Germany, while China and U.S. will be entering their peak periods. In sum, the overall demand will stay strong.
“The global demand is expected to keep rising in 2016 to 58GW as long as renewable energy policies across the world remain the same,” said Patrick Lin, analyst for EnergyTrend. “Asia, Americas, Europe and MEA (the Middle East and Africa) will each be taking 57%, 25%, 11% and 7% of the global market share next year.”
Though the demand situation is generally optimistic, there will be an unavoidable period of oversupply at the turn of 2015 and 2016, when Chinese industry participants conclude their production capacity expansion efforts. Furthermore, the emerging markets such as South America and Africa are likely to slow down after the completion of their PV power plants, and their demand may fall to their base levels. Without supporting policies that can help them reach their renewable energy quota, the oversupply problem in these emerging markets will worsen.
In Asia, demand from Japan is expected to lower gradually at the start of 2016 as the country reduces its renewable energy subsidies. However, Lin pointed out that China will fill this demand gap because the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan and Pilot Program will continue to promote the country’s PV sector. While India is behind in market development, local PV production capacities are growing owing to the participation of Chinese companies. EnergyTrend expects India to become the world’s fourth-largest PV market in 2016. Other Asian markets, such as Thailand, South Korea and Philippines are expected to reach their installation targets for next year as well. Taken as a whole, Asia’s demand is estimated to stand at 33.1GW.
In North America, demand will surge right before the termination of U.S. subsidy programs. Moreover, California has revised its Renewable Portfolio Standard for 2020, raising the target percentage of electricity from renewable sources to 50%. Hence, the U.S. market will still have a lot of potentials in the near future. As for South America, the short-term installation targets of Brazil, Chile, Honduras and Uruguay have reached hundreds of megawatts. The total demand of this region is also quite large and will be around 14.6GW in 2016.
Among the countries in the MEA region, those that have seen impressive installation growth this year include Saudi Arabia, Israel, South Africa and Algeria. They have rising demand for PV power plants of 50MW and above in generation capacity level. On the other hand, changes are happening in Europe, especially the U.K. where the government is striving towards a zero-subsidy PV market. If the U.K. is committed to revising its FiT (Feed-in Tariff) program, the country’s projected PV demand in 2016 will fall from the originally estimated 3GW to 1.2GW. Likewise, demand from other European countries such as Germany weakened by the ongoing reduction of their respective FiT rates. Greece is returning to using fossil fuels for electricity generation due to its economic troubles. Despite MEA’s strong performance, installed capacity growth in 2016 will remain at the same level as this year’s, with the combined demand of MEA and Europe reaching 10.3GW.