China is already the largest producer of solar products in the world and now the government has initiated to open their domestic market. The resulting new targets will ensure China itself will represent one of the largest PV markets in the world.
China implemented feed-in tariffs for solar last year and this week the China Daily reported that the country has increased its 2015 target for PV’s from five gigawatts to 20 gigawatts, with an additional gigawatt of concentrated solar power scheduled to be installed as well. This represents a rate of nearly 4 gigawatts installed per year –a level that would match world leaders Germany and Italy. With the Italian and German markets expected to shrink, this new Chinese target could make it largest market in the world for the foreseeable future. Originally, 20 gigawatts were expected to be installed by 2020.
The initial major impact of the policy would be the absorption of the oversupply of solar panels (it is estimated that supply is now twice as great as demand) and most market forecasts up to 2015 do not expect demand to change much. However, similar to the wind turbine market in China which is the world’s largest, production of the systems is expected to remain largely in the hands of the local manufacturers. If this is the case, non-Chinese PV manufacturers will have little to rejoice about. Finally, the creation of a domestic market will create a demand for large systems developers of which there a few in China and thus would create openings for overseas outfits.
Whilst the new targets represent a sizable percentage increase, it is likely that China will surpass even these lofty ambitions. This is in a backdrop where countries like the USA continue to fall short of their targets for renewables. A senior analyst for Solarbuzz called China’s plans to quadruple its installation targets “very conservative,” saying that it is likely the country will “surpass 30 gigawatts” by 2015, which would be equivalent to 7.5 gigawatts per year – the level Germany has roughly maintained since the beginning of 2010.