Asia-Pacific to install 4.8GW in 2011

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An end-of-year surge in the number of utility-scale PV installation in China and India will result in installed capacity for 2011 in the Asia-Pacific region reaching 4.8GW, according to the new Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly report from NPD Solarbuzz.

Total installations in the region for the final quarter of the year amounted to 2GW – a 39% quarter-to-quarter and 130% year-on-year capacity rise. Driving this growth was China, which accounted for nearly half of regional demand in Q4 and by the year's end will have connected close to 2GW. Not only is this total the largest in Asia, but it will also top the 1.6GW figure forecasted for the US.

And Solarbuzz is forecasting this regional growth to carry on into 2012, with ambitious installation targets from national governments – China's National Energy Administration recently revised its cumulative solar installation target by 2015 up from 10GW to 15GW – and rising internal rates of return (IRRs) set to inspire a 45% expansion in market size.

Outside of China, demand is being driven by already existing or planned national incentive programmes in countries such as India, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, with the latter two expected to account for an additional 700 MW of demand in 2012.

Non-residential, ground-mount systems will comprise the majority of new installs over the coming 12 months; by Q4 2012, the percentage of such systems will have risen from 16% in Q1 2011 to 64%. This growth will come at the expense of the residential sector, which will fall from 58% in Q1 2011 to 20% in Q4 2012.

Despite all this success, market constraints and downstream access issues still exist in most countries in the region, presenting a headache to potential project developers. In China and India, financing, land use and regulatory complications present a significant barrier to entry, while over in Australia, policy disruptions have already forced many downstream companies into liquidation.

“As the European markets no longer present certain growth, the Asia Pacific markets are increasingly the focus of international companies looking to expand. Companies seeking to take a share of this growth still face significant hurdles to define strategies to successfully access the downstream value chain,” Solarbuzz analyst Christopher Sunsong said. “These challenges, though, are unlikely to deter their determination to participate given the potential of this new regional market opportunity.”

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