US and China on course for top solar spots

Solar is set to rebound in the second half of the year, with China and US to see further installation increases.

Despite a slow start to the year worldwide, capacity should see installations double from the first half.

This is compared to the 13 percent increase between the first two quarters of this year.

According to IMS Reseach, there will be an additional 22 gigawatts of photovoltaic (PV) capacity added in 2011, with Asia and the Americas benefitting most from growth. This includes an additional 1 GW added to forecast from earlier expectations.

Part of the reason for this is down to plummeting module prices, as well as incentive programmes in new markets.

This will lead to a “huge surge” in installations, according to IMS Research PV expert Ash Sharma.

China will be one country which will see large short term increases.  This is largely attributable to recent feed in tariffs and other government incentives.

This means that there are expectations of 1.3 GW worth of installations this year, rising to over 2GW in 2012. China is on course to become more of a player in installations as well as with production.

In fact, IMS projections say China is set to become one of the top three global markets by 2015.

However, certain European markets will not expected to reach such dizzying heights, with a slow down predicted in Germany this year, despite retaining a top spot in IMS’ top 10 global markets.

This will be compensated by geographical diversification, with a number of new countries such as Slovenia and the UK making further inroads into PV installations.

11 European countries will account for over 100 MW of installations this year, making a total of 20 globally.  This is up from 13 countries worldwide last year.

On the plus side, this will mean more stability, with growth previously dependent on a small group of nations.

Although Europe still dominates the global PV market, only four countries are expected to be amongst the top ten for this year.

One of the reasons behind this is cutting FITs.

“It’s certainly slowing growth down,” Sharma told us, “but Europe is still at the forefront for PV. Incentives are being introduced in quite a few new European markets too.”

It’s noted that that Europe still accounts for 70 percent of all installations.

Whether this will continue to be the case long term is unlikely. With China and the US now putting their attention on the technology it appears the power is shifting away from Europe.

“USA and China look set to be huge PV markets,” Sharma told us.

“We expect the USA to install more than 2GW this year and is well on the way to achieving that based on what was done in 1H. China was already moving along nicely, due to the Golden Sun projects and also a small FIT in one province of Qinghai.

“However prospects have improved even further as a national FIT was approved for China yesterday – this will significantly boost installations in the country.

“Whilst Europe and Germany will remain key players, their dominance in the global market is starting to fall as the market diversifies.”