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Asia Drives Global PV Installations to 46 GW

Global solar photovoltaic (PV) installations will grow by a robust 22% in 2014, largely as a result of recent policy changes in the two largest markets, China and Japan, according to IHS Inc.

Worldwide installations in 2014 will rise to 46 GW (gigawatts), 5 GW higher than had been predicted in October 2013, based on a quarterly review of PV installations in more than 100 countries conducted by the IHS PV Demand Tracker Service.

IHS increased its forecast in light of recent policy changes in China and Japan.

The recent announcement by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that it would increase its target for ground-mount PV projects, as well as its total installation goal, was a key factor in driving up the forecast.

“IHS previously expressed its doubts about the Chinese government’s capability to reach an ambitious target of 8 GW worth of rooftop solar projects in 2014,” said Ash Sharma, senior director of solar research at IHS. “While IHS still predicts this goal will not be met, China’s recent announcement that it will shift its focus to ground-mount projects and increase its installation target for this segment to 6 GW has led us to raise our forecast for 2014.”

IHS predicts that China will install 4.8 GW of rooftop projects and 8 GW of ground-mount projects in 2014–some 2 GW higher than the NRDC’s target. Total installations in China will amount to 13 GW this year, compared to 10 GW in 2013.

The other major change to the IHS 2014 PV solar forecast came from Japan.

Although IHS did cut its forecast for residential PV installations in Japan this year, the outlook for commercial and ground-mount sectors is now more robust than it was back in the fourth quarter of 2013, following detailed channel and supply agreement checks.

“IHS expects the residential PV market in Japan to decline this year,” Sharma explained. “Although the reduction in Japan’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) conformed precisely to IHS expectations, other factors will cause the residential market to decline. These factors include the increase in sales tax on domestic PV systems, the expiration of the additional up-front subsidy and the slowdown in new housing construction.”

However, the residential weakness will be more than compensated for by the extremely strong commercial rooftop market. IHS expects the rooftop segment will account for about 60% of the total of 9 GW that will be installed in Japan this year. This will represent 45% growth from 6.3 GW in 2013.

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