For the first time, China is poised to not only dominate the solar supply market, but also the solar demand market.
China’s renewable energy division originally outlined 5 GW of solar to be installed in the country through 2015, but a new plan recently released will quadruple that amount. The new goal is 21 gigawatts of solar installed within the country in the next three years.
The country’s solar target has already been ramped up a couple of times before this most recent announcement.
For the last several years, China has been at the top of the list for wind power production but solar within the country was less of a priority until just recently. Now that the global solar market is swamped with Chinese product, the Chinese are looking to sell product within their own borders. Industry analyst IMS Research believes that as much as 5 to 7 GW of PV installations could be completed in China this year.
This comes at a good time for Chinese solar manufacturers who have depended on the booming European marketplace for the last decade. Germany, a strong solar country for the last several years, put 7.5 GW of solar capacity on the grid in 2011 but is set to add just 5.9 GW this year.
Comparatively, the United States installed 1.9 GW of solar last year. U.S.-based Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicts a strong year for solar by U.S. standards: SEIA predicts about 2.8 GW of solar to come online in 2012.
Other Asia-Pacific countries, most notably India, Australia and Japan, are expected to become larger solar producers in the next few years as well. Japan in particular hopes to boost solar installations with a new feed-in tariff program designed to reduce dependence on nuclear power within the country.