The solar industry has been subjected to an intense period of growth and maturation over the past 24 months, as a result of China’s impressive manufacturing capabilities and worldwide demand for one of the two major renewable energy technologies. By the end of 2011 China had emerged as the leading supplier of the crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV production chain, flooding markets throughout the world with product enough to disrupt local manufacturers.
This signaled the beginning of trade investigations and anti-dumping regulations in an attempt to minimize the damage China’s massive manufacturing capabilities could have on local manufacturers.
Crystalline silicon PV products account for approximately 90% of solar PV production, which meant that China had a stranglehold on the international market. Regulations set in place to minimize this effect from the Chinese have done little, however, to disrupt China’s control, thanks in large part to China’s own increase in downstream demand.
New figures provided by solar analysis company NPD Solarbuzz have revealed China’s dominance from top to bottom of the crystalline silicon solar PV production chain. The numbers look at the fourth quarter of 2011 and the forthcoming fourth quarter of 2014 in an attempt to examine the PV supply picture in a different way.
As can be seen, the fourth quarter of 2011 (Q4’11) was dominated by European demand for solar, with China holding a sizable portion of production. As the years have passed, however, China has found a new market as an outlet for their prolific production — China.
A combination of manufacturing pressures and a growing demand for renewable energy technology to support an exploding population has seen China become one of the top 2 countries for solar PV demand. A recent study by IHS confirmed that, between them, the United States and China currently account for 61 GW of current PV projects at various stages of development.
More figures released earlier this month by NPD Solarbuzz confirm China’s dominant position as a solar PV leader, forecasting that the country would soon pass 100 GW worth of installed solar PV capacity in 2018. And while the industry will change from quarter to quarter, it is clear that China will continue to emerge as a dominant and almost vital part in the solar PV industry.