NPD Solarbuzz: Asia Pacific set to deliver 5.3GW of PV installations in fourth quarter

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The expected geographical shift in PV demand away from Europe to the Asia Pacific region is turning into a surge, according to new research featured in the NPD Solarbuzz ‘Asia Pacific Major PV Markets Quarterly.’ Year-on-year growth is expected to be around 80% but 50% of that growth, which is equivalent to 5.3GW, is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2012. Key markets driving growth include; China, India and Japan.

NPD Solarbuzz said that the APAC region had already experienced rapid growth, notably in the second quarter of this year with 1.4GW installed, greater than 60% growth, year-on-year.

In particular, PV market demand in China grew by over 300% in Q2’12 to reach 0.6 GW, stimulated by deadline requirements for the completion of Golden Sun PV projects.

“Strong growth in APAC and other emerging PV markets is providing new impetus for companies active within downstream PV segments,” noted Wolfgang Schlichting, Research Director at NPD Solarbuzz. “However, in established PV markets, the short-term business environment will remain challenging for the remainder of 2012, with continued reductions in incentive policies and uncertainties due to the ongoing trade disputes.”

However, the market research firm warned that aside from Japan with its attractive FiT, APAC is characterised by highly-competitive pricing with low-margin returns. Challenges also exist in project delays for utility-scale projects, often connected to financing issues. Delays in developing projects in China in the first-half of the year were a recurring theme from Chinese PV manufacturers during second quarter financial reporting.

NPD Solarbuzz believes that any further delays in project financing could result in a module oversupply situation worsening at year-end and ahead of a seasonally-driven downturn in the first quarter of 2013.

The market research firm is already projecting demand in the Asia Pacific region is forecast to decline to just 2.1GW in the first quarter of next year as seasonal soften returns.

“The ability to adjust quickly to changing market conditions arising from sudden policy changes, trade action, or competitive strategies will become essential for industry participants,” added Schlichting.

Although the European market is expected to tail-off in the second-half of the year, the European PV market grew 32% to 8.5GW installed, compared to the first-half of 2011. However, incentive reductions in Germany, Italy, and other major European PV markets continue to erode the demand-share previously commanded by these former PV market leaders.
Growth within Europe is expected to shift to emerging markets during the next couple of years, including Austria, Denmark, Israel, and various countries in the east and southeast of Europe.

Supporting recent estimates from other market research firms, NPD Solarbuzz also noted that the North American market was booming, having seen growth of 50% and installations topping 1.4GW in the first-half of the year.

According to the NPD Solarbuzz ‘North America PV Markets Quarterly,’ the US market is forecast to add 1.2GW of ground-mount PV systems in the second-half of the year , representing 60% of the second-half US demand, which is being driven by RPS compliance requirements. 

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