Spurred on by favorable government policies and incentives, several Asia-Pacific countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Malaysia have begun to make large-scale investments in solar power projects. The market is also attracting the attention of manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe, which are scouting for newer markets to conduct business in, following the oversupply of solar panels in their domestic markets.
A new analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Solar Power Markets in Asia-Pacific, finds that the market earned revenues of over US$7.60 billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach US$11.11 billion by 2016.
The launch of the feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme will accelerate solar energy installations in the Asia Pacific. In Japan, FiT is expected to help the solar market grow at 20 percent in 2012, and the country is likely to be the revenue leader in the region throughout the forecast period (2012-2016).
“Meanwhile, FiT in Thailand enables people in remote areas to participate in electricity generation from renewable sources,” said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Subha Krishnan. “However, since these schemes target photovoltaic (PV) power, concentrated solar power (CSP) is yet to be harnessed as a viable option of alternative power in the region.”
In 2011, PV power garnered 99.6 percent of the market revenue. Japan, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam are vigorously implementing policies for the development of PV.
The year-on-year drop in solar panel prices, particularly the 60 percent slash in 2011, has further encouraged PV power installations. Renewable energy proposals lined up for CSP have been replaced with PV systems, which are considered less expensive.
Still, countries with high direct normal irradiance (DRI) like Australia, Thailand, and Malaysia can expect CSP to be a competitive source of power by 2020. This will only be possible with long term funding for research and development, along with the introduction of more support schemes.
The drastic fall in panel prices have also led to heavy losses for several original equipment manufacturers. To avoid bankruptcy, module producers are looking to merge with polysilicon companies or diversify into the upstream or downstream segment of the value chain.
“Focus on better efficiency and productivity is crucial for module producers’ market sustenance, since several low-cost Chinese products are expected to flood the Asia-Pacific market,” concluded Krishnan. “Supply chain participants must develop new technologies that integrate large PVs into flexible and efficient grids to enable these systems to mature into the mainstream.”
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