Emerging countries imported $1.8bn of Chinese solar modules in Q1
Emerging solar markets in South and East Asia, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East imported $722mn worth of solar components from China in March this year – the highest amount ever in a single month
More than half of all Chinese solar shipments in March this year went to India, while emerging countries alone now account for 60% of China’s PV exports, according to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance 3Q Frontier Power Market Outlook.
Emerging solar markets in South and East Asia, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East imported $722 million worth of solar components from China in March this year – the highest amount ever in a single month.
More than half of that figure – $508 million – can be attributed to India, which has steadily increased its solar imports from China on a monthly basis all year: from $296 million in January to $464 million in February, accounting for 37% and 44% of all Chinese PV exports to emerging markets (non-OECD) respectively.
This data, which comes from the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) 3Q Frontier Power Market Outlook, also reveals that emerging solar markets now account for more than 60% of all of China’s PV exports – a massive $1.8 billion worth of solar PV equipment over the first quarter of the year.
While India is the most demanding customer, Latin America and the Caribbean has stepped up its Chinese solar orders too, importing $215 million worth in Q1 this year, compared to $71 million in Q1 2016.
However, it is the relationship between China and India that is most striking from the data, and not just in trade: the two countries are also some of the most active investors in rural electrification and renewable projects in Africa, providing between them loans worth $189 million for PV and microgrid projects on the continent since April.
The BNEF data also shows that there has been a steep and encouraging decline in the amount of diesel generators sold in these frontier markets, with Africa and the Middle East recording a 25% fall in diesel generator imports in 2016. The downward trend is evident across OECD nations, but BNEF is reluctant to pin this transition solely on the growth of renewables – indeed, the market for branded portable solar kits also contracted 8% in the second half of 2016, the data shows.
The BNEF report attributes the slowdown in solar kit investment to a tougher economic climate and regulatory environment in many non-OECD countries, with currency issues in Nigeria and India in particular affecting uptake. Around 40% of all solar kit sales in the second half of 2016 were recorded in East Africa, with South Asia accounting for 38% of sales.