European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) says that Asia could account for a quarter of global solar capacity in five years, possibly overtaking the United States, if the region’s policy makers continue to enact measures supporting solar use.
In 2009, the region’s biggest solar markets installed nearly 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of solar facilities, with Japan accounting for half that total. The market is expected to grow 9-fold to 7500 MW by 2014; if supported by favourable policies by the Governments. The main drivers being the committments from around the region to slash emissions and a global push to renewable energy’s share of total electricity production.
China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia are expected to account for over 90 percent of the Asian solar market by 2014.
– Japan is the world’s third-largest market for solar energy, helped by subsidies to households installing photovoltaic (PV) systems; with EPIA expecting Japan to become a 1,000 MW market this year in 2010.
– Japan has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in 2020 and is expanding the use of solar and other renewable energy sources to achieve this target.
– PV technology is well established and widely used in buildings and some residential areas, and would complement plans to establish future large solar projects.
– There are plans to install 28 Gigawatt (GW) of solar energy by 2020, rising to 53 GW by 2030.
– China is among the world’s largest suppliers of solar panels, but uses little of what it produces domestically. But with more than 12 GW of large projects in the pipeline, China could rapidly become a major market.
– The Government announced a solar program in March 2009 followed by a second, larger program in July for ground-mounted PV systems.
– China saw installation of 160 MW of solar capacity in 2009.
– Unofficial solar target is 20 GW by 2020, and industry experts believe it could top targets if it implements a feed-in tariff or sets a preferential rate per kilowatt-hour of solar energy. Timing on this is unclear.
-India has also set an ambitious target of 20 GW of installed capacity by 2022, though it does not have much of a manufacturing capability currently. Chinese solar firms are expected to be the main beneficiaries of increased solar demand in India in the initial years.
– The Indian Government in 2009 set a goal for slowing emissions growth, saying it will rein in its carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output — by 20-25 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.
– There are plans to achieve this by developing solar and other sources of renewable energy. Rising electricity demand and high solar irradiation levels suggest a potentially huge market for solar equipment.
– South Korea is leveraging its expertise in electronics and high-end manufacturing to enter the solar market, but it is a relative latecomer.
– Solar installation dropped to 168 MW in 2009 as a surprise surge in 2008 prompted an easing of subsidies in the sector.
– The countru is still keen, however, to develop its solar market and requires power utilities to generate at least 2 percent of their total capacity from renewable energy sources.
– Australia installed 66 MW of solar capacity in 2009, bringing it closer to its target of generating a fifth of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020.
– A Government grant scheme has been the main driver behind off-grid solar PV systems. It also implements a feed-in tariff at the state level to promote solar installation.