Well, for one, this is the year that both the U.S. and China markets clear the one-gigawatt hurdle of annual installed solar. The U.S. crosses that line sometime in September and China will cross that line on about December 31, according to the intrepid solar analysts at GTM Research.
Suntech’s Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Beebe, said he expects China to be a “multi-gigawatt market” in 2012. In an article in Financial Times, Yingli Solar’s Chairman and CEO Mr. Liansheng Miao was quoted as saying, “We strongly believe that China will quickly evolve into one of the largest and most important solar markets in the world.”
China has long surpassed the United States in funding for green technology and is discussing a “campaign to limit the absolute amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by certain industries in certain regions,” according to a senior climate official, as reported in the China Daily. China’s government has plans to expand its installed capacity to 20 gigawatts by 2020 — a feat that will be enabled by a recently instituted solar feed-in tariff. That 20-gigawatts-by-2020 figure has a tendency to be rather, um, fluid, and certain solar analysts like Amy Song of Goldman Sachs have characterized the FIT as “temporary.”
At any rate, China could surpass the U.S. in installed PV within a year or two. China’s cumulative capacity will double this year to two gigawatts.