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Summary:

China is emerging as a massive market for solar panels, not just the world’s solar panel supplier. As of Q4 2012, China has been buying a third of the world’s solar panels.

Wayne National Forest Solar Panel Construction

China has long been the world’s supplier of low-cost solar panels, and now it’s a major market for them, too. According to research firm NPD’s SolarBuzz report, in the last quarter of 2012 China bought up 33 percent of the world’s solar panel supply.

In contrast, two years prior China accounted for less than 10 percent of the world’s solar panel sales. The shift is a combo of slowing sales in Europe and strong subsidies for solar panels in China.

NPD SolarBuzzSelling solar panels into China is a bit different than selling them to European or U.S. markets. NPD analyst Michael Barker, says:

“The Chinese end-market has different module supplier preferences, pricing expectations, and routes to market. However, threatened by the impact of global trade barriers, the biggest challenge will fall on Chinese manufacturers that are restricted to domestic demand only.”

  1. Reblogged this on Simon Hamer and commented:
    Looks like there will a sun rising in the east for solar power.

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  2. Odd, I did not think solar would work well through the wall of smog that seems to hover over the country. In all seriousness, I wonder what kind of impact smog has on solar.

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    1. Solar will reduce smog :)

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  3. Albert Hartman Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Solar is an exponential technology approaching an inflection point – when it gets so cheap that cost stops being a consideration.

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  4. Why is this a surprise? They have a third of the worlds population.

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    1. a fifth actually

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  5. What does “demand” mean in the plot? Why such a huge demand in 12Q4 followed by tiny demand in 13Q1 and 2?

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    1. glad you asked, I was thinking the same thing

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  6. China is vast and the western regions are clean and full of sunshine.
    The economics is getting very close since the cost per watt is getting below $1.50, with over
    1600 hours annual standard sunshine, 4% interest rate, and 10 year loan, the cost of electricity is less than $0.10/kwhr!

    That is already lower than selling price but higher than buying cost by the grid.

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  7. The solar works well in western regions, clear air, cooler and lots of sunshine.
    With the installed cost below $1.5/w, electricity cost gets below $0.10/kwhr.

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  8. 12Q4 was a gold rush. The utility PPA price was rmb1-1.2/kwhr ($0.16/kwhr). It drops to from rmb0.75-1/kwhr for various regions starting this year.
    Solar is still indeed a subsidy driven game. Subsidy creates demand, I think.

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