COVID-19: China Recovering But Global PV Demand To Take A Hit

TaiyangNews Webinar On China Impacting Global Solar PV Sector Due To COVID-19 Impact; BloombergNEF, LONGi Solar & Ginlong Solis Expect Overcapacity From China But Demand Slow To Pick Up Elsewhere
03:33 PM (Beijing Time) - 08. April 2020

Installation rush or the lack of it in China during 2020 will be a determining factor in the global solar PV installations, according to BloombergNEF that sees 26.2 GW of solar capacity coming up in China in 2020 under a low scenario, while under a high scenario it expects the number at 36.7 GW. LONGi Solar & Ginlong Solis peg it at 40 GW.

Key Takeaways

  • TaiyangNews webinar with representatives form BloomberNEF, LONGi, Ginlong sees global market demand coming down this year
  • Experts and industry players also expect global demand for solar PV slow to pick up pace in later part of 2020 as current COVID-19 restricts movement and triggers economic repercussions, but it's to early to say when exactly
  • A difference between global demand and supply (majorly from China) will be around 10 GW, with overcapacities resulting in some consolidation
  • China's solar market this year possibly will win global market shares on weak demand from rest of world due to COVID-19, but opinions how large it will be vary among experts during the TaiyangNews webinar


As China continues to be the largest solar market in the world to cater to the world’s solar PV products’ needs, it is heartening to see the country en route to recovery from the dreaded coronavirus pandemic. The rest of the world, however, is very much struggling to contain the virus and its impacts. The massive and long-standing lockdowns are the key reason why experts and industry players during a TaiyangNews webinar agreed that global demand is more of a concern for the solar industry than having China producing enough solar modules, as of now.

Expecting an economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BloombergNEF) has already lowered its global solar demand forecast for the year 2020 to between 108 GW to 143 GW, down from its previous estimate of 121 GW to 154 GW.

During the April 2, 2020 webinar organized by TaiyangNews on How Solar market Developments In China Impact The Global PV Sector In Times Of COVID-19, BloombergNEF Solar Insight Analyst Yali Jiang claimed that the year 2020 is turning out to be the 1st dull year for solar industry since 1980s due to the impact of COVID-19. She believes 2020 installation numbers would finally depend on China’s administration ensuring approved projects are commissioned this year or it extends their commissioning deadlines.

As demand from the rest of the world drops significantly, at least for the time being, Jiang sees overcapacity weighing down the market, something that LONGi Solar’s Global Brand Marketing Director, Benjamin Wong agrees with. During Q2/2020, Wong sees a difference of 10 GW between supply and demand due to production overcapacity in China while Europe would most likely see large scale projects pushing back commissioning deadlines due to labor shortages.

As one of the largest solar module suppliers from China, LONGi Solar has the capacity and supply chain flexibility to meet changing customers’ delivery schedules, assured Wong.

Global solar PV inverter company Ginlong Solis’ Sales Director Europe, Sandy Woodward added his company has been fulfilling back orders currently as Europe is pretty much on halt, even though Germany and Holland continue to operate, with installations continuing.

First stimulus packages released by respective federal governments to support their industries does not find direct space for solar, however, making it difficult for projects to secure financing, even though tat might change for the re-covery packages. Going forward, Wong expects consolidation activity to pick up pace in the industry.

However, Wong and Woodward see China exiting the year with 40 GW of new solar PV capacity, which would be a strong increase from the 30 GW installed in 2019, and also increase China’s market share in 2020. On the other hand, BloombergNEF’s latest forecast offers a wide range for the country, adding 26.2 GW in the low scenario and 36.7 GW in the high scenario, which means that the research firm looks in any case more conservative on the solar developments in China this year than LONGi’s Wong and Ginlong’s Woodward.

Jiang also added that with or without COVID-19, China’s dominance on the global solar demand is gradually coming down, in other words, this trend over the last 3 years would continue. However, this remains to be seen in the short run, as it will depend on how the rest of the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic curtailment – and how long the crisis will take, something all agreed on.

In a March 10, 2020 webinar of TaiyangNews, PV InfoLink estimated the impacts of the virus (back then) were not too big and that module supply shortage in the world should ease by April 2020 or May 2020 (see COVID-19 Impact On Global Solar Market Limited So Far).

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani