IEA – Foster Solar energy

Solar power photovoltaic deployment: From 2000-10, solar PV was the fastest growing renewable power technology worldwide.  Estimates suggest that cumulative installed capacity of solar power PV reached roughly 40 GW at the end of 2010, up from 1.5 GW in 2000.

At least 17 GW were added in 2010, roughly half in Germany. In the year 2009, the last year for which a full data set is available, Germany, Spain, Japan, the United States, Italy and Korea accounted for over 90% of global cumulative capacity. Based on first available data for 2010, Germany maintains its massive lead of the market. Italy and the Czech Republic also saw a solar PV boom resulting from generous FITs and rapidly decreasing PV module costs.

Spain experienced rapid growth in 2008, followed by a significant slowdown after a new regulatory framework was introduced in 2009. The government has sought to rationalise deployment and control the impact of the FIT by establishing a quota of 500 MW of new capacity per year, a relatively modest target, comparing to the 2 500 MW added in 2008.

Growth in the United States remained stable, while Japan continues to lead the way in Asia, adding almost 500 MW in 2009. China has announced ambitious targets and we can expect that China will transform its role from a leader in PV manufacturing to accelerate domestic deployment over the next few years.

Concentrated solar energy deployment

Concentrating Solar Power is a reemerging market. Roughly 350 MW of commercial plants were built in California in the late 1980s; activity started again in 2006 in the United States, (473 MW at the end of 2009) and Spain (632 MW at the end of 2010). At present, Spain and the United States are the only two countries with significant CSP capacity. As Concentrating Solar Power requires strong direct irradiation, future developments are expected in a handful of key countries in semi]arid, hot regions.

Concentrating Solar Power projects are under construction or planning in a number of developing and emerging economies, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Australia, China, India, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Solar thermal deployment

By the end of 2008, worldwide installed solar thermal capacity totalled 152 GWth corresponding to 217 million square meters. Of total solar thermal capacity installed in 2008, 132 GWth consist of flat]plate and evacuated tube collectors. Unglazed plastic collectors accounted for 19 GWth, which are the dominant application in the United States and Australia, mainly used for swimming pool heating. The remaining 1 GWth comes from solar air collectors.

The main markets are in China (87.5 GWth), Europe (28.5 GWth) and the United States and Canada (15.1 GWth). Leading countries in flat]plate and evacuated tube collectors are China (87.5 GWth), Turkey (7.5 GWth), Germany (7.2 GWth), Japan (4.1 GWth) and Greece (2.7 GWth).

Apart from solar thermal systems operating on individual buildings, some 150 large]scale solar thermal plants (≥ 500 m2; 350 kWth) are in operation in Europe, functioning as multifamily building systems or contributing to district heating.

Annual installed glazed collector area worldwide was more than four times higher in 2008 than in 2000, with an average annual growth of 20.1%. The estimates for 2009 show that capacity has increased significantly again to 189 GWth with complete data available for Europe and China.

Solar energy policy developments

Most countries with favourable solar deployment have adopted an integrated policy approach by establishing national Solar Missions or Programmes to set targets and drive coordination. Photovoltaic policies faced major challenges in 2010 and beginning of 2011. While expansion in global photovoltaic capacity has been a positive development, in that it has delivered significant cost reductions, this boom was larger than expected.

As a consequence, escalating policy costs raised the question of financial sustainability of policy schemes. As a result, 2010 and the beginning of 2011 saw a number of countries reducing FIT tariff rates for solar PV development, and in some cases halting capacity expansion.

A key need is to design policies that adjust support to follow rapid reductions in the cost of solar technology. For solar heating, the most widely adopted support mechanisms are direct capital grants and tax credits for the purchase of a solar thermal system; these are offered by a number of European Union countries.

Other noteworthy policy developments include:

India launched its Solar Mission in 2009 with an objective of 20 GW of installed capacity by 2022, supported by the use of renewable purchase obligation and preferential tariff rates.

China established the Golden Sun programme in 2009 to expand solar production in China, with subsidies for 50% of the cost of investment in projects and related transmission and distribution systems. For remote, non grid connected regions, subsides could amount to 70%.

In 2010, China also implemented the Building Integrated Solar PV programme that provides incentives and grants. The China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection group completed one of the largest building integrated PV installations in the world at over 6.5 MW.

In South Africa, plans for the Solar Park were approved by the Department of Energy, with the objective of building 5 GW of solar capacity.

The United States saw progress in 2010 in the permitting of large CSP plants which will lead to expansion of the industry in 2011. The DOE also finalised a USD 1.45 billion loan guarantee for the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrated solar energy plant—it will be 250 MW in capacity.

Israel pioneered solar heating obligations in the 1980, mandating solar collectors in all new residential buildings. Today, solar thermal systems are a mainstream technology in the Israeli water heater market without any financial support.

Deployment of solar thermal technologies can also be encouraged in energy efficient building regulations. Germany’s 2009 building regulations require a defined share of a new building’s heat demand to be supplied by renewable energy.