Top 10 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Markets Illustrate Shifts in Global Demand

The top 10 global PV markets accounted for over 80% of end-market demand in 2013. However, each of these markets has unique characteristics that drive demand, ranging from individual policy and regulatory structures to differing customer preferences and business models. These factors can lead to dramatically different market sizes and growth rates.

Looking at the growth rates of these countries in 2013, we can see a distinct trend that shows the shift of end-market demand away from Europe and towards Asia. In fact, according to the Marketbuzz 2014 report, the three fastest growing markets in 2013 were Japan, China, and Thailand, each more than doubling their end-market demand levels over the previous year. Conversely, three of the top European markets saw end-market levels decline in 2013, with only the United Kingdom showing growth.

Figure 1: Annual Growth Rates in 2013

Source: Marketbuzz 2014

This trend is even more evident if we examine the top 10 markets not just by 2013 annual growth, but by 2013 market size and forecast 2014 growth rates as well. Countries located above the horizontal and to the right of the vertical axes (quadrant I) of the figure below saw growth in 2013 and are forecast to continue growing in 2014. Conversely, countries located in quadrant III declined in 2013 and are forecast to decline as well in 2014.

China and Japan were the largest markets and grew the most by far in 2013. Not only are these markets projected to continue increasing in 2014, but the shift to Asia will be further aided by growth in the Indian and Thai markets. In fact only two top-10 markets, Germany and Australia, declined in terms of market size in 2013 and are forecast to continue the decline in 2014.

Figure 2: Top 10 Global PV Markets – Market Size and Growth

Source: Marketbuzz 2014

While this type of analysis can be used to identify growth markets, it is also essential to understand the underlying factors driving these markets. The PV industry has emerged from a challenging transition but continued growth in major markets and a shakeout of uncompetitive capacity is leading to renewed optimism in all segments of the industry.