Asia to Become Solar Power Leader by 2016, Overtaking Europe

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Asia is set to produce more solar power than any other region in the world over the next five years, said the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) on Monday, with the fastest PV (photovoltaic) growth expected to come from China and India.

"Europe has dominated the global PV (photovoltaic) market for years but the rest of the world clearly has the biggest potential for growth," wrote the EPIA report, as cited by Reuters.

According to the energy association, Germany is presently the world's largest PV market, followed closely by China, the United States and Japan.Europe also accounted for nearly 75 percent of all new PV installations last year - on the back of generous production incentives - though that pace is expected to drop significantly.

"Such a rapid growth rate cannot be expected to last forever, however, and the industry is now weathering a period of uncertainty in the short term," the report said.

On the other hand, the report believes that China is ready for consistent growth. By the end of this year, China will be expected to add between three to five gigawatts of solar power capacity, and its annual capacity will rise to 4.5-10 gigawatts in 2016.

Similarly, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa will also increase its solar power capacity over the next five years, as the cost of solar equipment continues to drop.

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As such, the total PV capacity across the world will rise from around 69.7 gigawatts in 2011 to between 90-110 gigawatts by the end of this year, said EPIA's Secretary General Reinhold Buttgereit. By 2016, the global solar power generating capacity will grow by between 200 and 400 percent, he added.

"The growth will depend on the support of politicians. It's not only about money, it's also about reducing bureaucracy," Buttgereit said.

Nevertheless, prices along the entire solar power supply chain will fall by 10-15 percent this year alone, said Stephan De Haan, PV analyst at IHS, with lower cost Asian manufacturers expected to replace their western counterparts.

epending on policy support, global PV capacity may add between 20.6 GW and 41.4 GW in 2013 and keep rising by between 38.8 GW and 77.3 GW in 2016, the report said.

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