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China is buying up a third of the world’s solar panels

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.”

11 Responses to “China is buying up a third of the world’s solar panels”

  1. Jian Yuan

    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.

  2. Jian Yuan

    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.

  3. Jian Yuan

    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.

  4. EntrepreNerd

    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.