Solar Energy in China

Gains in solar thermal collectors will be primarily stimulated by rising personal incomes and expanding construction activity, while photovoltaic modules will mainly be driven by government policies.

Demand in China to rise 16.6% yearly through 2013. Overall demand for solar energy products in China is forecast to increase 16.6 percent per annum to 50.4 billion yuan in 2013.

Market gains in solar thermal collectors, the dominant solar energy product type in China, will be primarily stimulated by rising personal income levels, which will minimize the hardship of the large initial investment that these more cost-effective products involve.

In addition, expanding construction activity will support sales of solar thermal water heater collectors, a result of increasing roof and facade surface area available for product installation. Market gains in photovoltaic modules will mainly be driven by a variety of central and local government policies to improve electrification levels in rural communities and to increase the share of solar energy in China’s energy consumption mix.

Photovoltaic modules to be fastest growing products

Demand for photovoltaic modules in China is projected to reach 855 peak megawatts in 2013, up from 65 peak megawatts in 2008.

Although accounting for a small portion of solar energy product spending in 2008, demand for photovoltaic modules is expected to take off during the forecast period.

Crystalline silicon modules will account for 78 percent of photovoltaic module demand in 2013. The popularity of crystalline silicon modules derives from their proven technology and high conversion efficiency. However, demand for thin film modules will see more rapid gains, benefiting from increasing penetration of the technology in large part due to low manufacturing costs compared with crystalline silicon modules.

The photovoltaic module industry in China is greatly affected by foreign trade, with exports accounting for 93 percent of total shipment value and imports representing 17 percent of overall demand in 2008.

Demand for solar thermal collectors in China is expected to grow 9.9 percent per year to 49.7 million square meters in 2013. Advances will be primarily driven by increasing personal income levels and expanding construction activity.

Water heater collectors are forecast to dominate the Chinese solar thermal collector market through 2013, benefiting from rising awareness of the advantages of these products and their being based on proven manufacturing technologies.

Though accounting for a tiny portion of the market in 2008, other collectors will register faster sales gains through 2013. Growth will be primarily spurred by government incentives to encourage purchases of solar cookers and the construction of solar houses in rural areas. Moreover, increasing public and private investment in solar thermal power stations will also stimulate sales of related products going forward. Unlike with photovoltaic modules, trade in solar thermal collectors is insignificant.