Rising solar demand seen in Asian markets set to continue after EU-China deal

Clare Saxon Ghauri
7 August 2013

BEIJING: Global solar industry manufacturers saw an upswing in shipments in June led by a flush of activity in China, Japan and Taiwan’s markets, and the growth looks set to continue now the EU and China have struck a deal on their solar trade dispute.

The world’s solar industry saw an increase in shipments and a steadying of prices in June, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s new Solar Shipment Index which surveyed a sample of top solar manufacturers.

Asia upswing

The Index attributes the upswing to a booming Japanese market which is expected to total 6.9 gigawatts of new-build solar PV in 2013, as well as pickup in China and Taiwan’s markets. Of those companies surveyed, Chinese module-makers saw shipments corresponding to 99% of their average manufacturing capacity, with Taiwanese cell makers reaching 84%.

BNEF’s Solar Insight team expects the global PV market to continue growing to reach 37.0 gigawatts in 2013, compared to 30.5 gigawatts in 2012. Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: “These data show that there is strong global demand for the PV products of the largest manufacturers, despite uncertainty and the flow of bad news from the global solar market. Consolidation continues, but 2013 will still be a year of growth for the industry as a whole.”

China-EU solar resolution

BNEF also ascribed China’s accelerated shipments in June to companies rushing to avoid European Union duties that were due to come into effect in August. The duties were designed to discourage below-cost sales, or ‘dumping’ of solar panels by Chinese companies in Europe. However, the dispute was resolved on August 2, when the Commission accepted a pricing proposal by Chinese solar panel manufacturers. Participating companies are now able to avoid the EU's duties.

The agreement -- a minimum import price and a limit of 7 gigawatts per year on EU imports of solar panels from around 90 Chinese manufacturers until the end of 2015 -- took effect on August 6. The decision came almost two months after the Commission decided to impose provisional anti-dumping duties. EU governments now have until December 6 to accept the agreement as a ‘definitive’ measure.

Universal access

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, said: “Even though the trade dispute between China and EU was a major obstacle for the Chinese solar industry, the bold and welcome leadership which led to agreement on a price settlement sends a positive signal around the strength of China and Europe’s cooperation in the low carbon economy – and it will not derail the solar revolution, as China’s steady solar growth looks set to continue beyond 2013.”

“Driven by energy security, environmental concerns and the competitiveness of solar technology and markets, the world’s major economies are taking the lead of this revolution. To achieve the universal access to electricity target that was set by the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the global community must now employ a model that will lower any more trade barriers, and accelerate the scale-up of solar energy.”

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By Clare Saxon

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