US And China Hold Almost Half Of PV Pipeline, But Only 3.7 GW In China

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Market research firm IHS has confirmed that there are currently 132 GW worth of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects at various stages of development around the world, with almost half of that residing in the United States and China.

However, given China’s recent rhetoric regarding their growing anti-coal stance and their promise to focus on solar development, the country only has 3.7 GW currently under construction.

Senior Analyst Josefin Berg provided the news via an emailed press release earlier this week.

According to Berg, “the global pipeline of PV projects now stands at 132 GW of which 10 GW are under construction.” These figures come from the PV Project Database which IHS Technology publishes each month. Combined the US currently has 35 GW of PV projects in various stages of development, and China 26 GW.

However, while these figures are impressive, they do not tell the whole story, according to IHS’s figures.

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Despite impressive numbers, IHS considers the majority of the US and China’s combined 61 GW to be immature, and “unlikely to materialize under current policy frameworks.”

While the US is said to have 35 GW worth of projects in “various phases of development” in its PV pipeline, IHS note that “a great chunk of these projects initiated development in 2011-2012, but have yet to sign PPAs [power purchase agreements].” Further, IHS predict that those projects that fail to sign PPAs by mid-2015 are unlikely to materialise before the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) expires in 2016.

China is in a similar position, with only 3.7 GW worth of projects under construction, but 26 GW worth of planned projects. China is said to have installed 3 GW of solar already this year, however with a recently revised target of 13 GW worth of installations for 2014, it seems they have a long way to go. Add in IHS’s numbers, and China may have bitten off more than it can chew.

The US has similar problems, as recent trade disputes have put a halt on the nation’s solar industry by introducing initial anti-dumping and anti-subsidy regulations set to minimise the impact China’s supply can have on American companies. As a result, more than 3 GW worth of solar PV projects are at risk.

Moving away from the major PV markets, IHS highlighted Chile’s PV pipeline. With only 100 MW of installed capacity at the end of 2013, the country now has an impressive 9 GW pipeline. The country already has close to 600 MW under construction, and an almost equal amount close to breaking ground, however complications could arise in the future if moves are not made to better integrate solar energy into the existing grid.

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Joshua S Hill

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