Global Market Outlook for Solar Energy Photovoltaics until 2015

Photovoltaic solar power well on the way to contributing an important share of the future energy mix. The solar power PV market experienced unprecedented growth in 2010. Capacity additions grew from 7.2 gigawatts (GW) installed in 2009 to 16.6 GW in 2010 thus making solar photovoltaic power the leading renewable energy technology in terms of new capacity growth in Europe last year. The total installed capacity in the world now amounts to around 40 GW, producing some 50 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electrical power every year. “The numbers reveal the outstanding potential of PV to make major contributions to the energy landscape of the future. The currently installed global PV capacity produces power equivalent to the entire electricity consumption of countries like Greece, Romania or Switzerland” explains Ingmar Wilhelm, President of EPIA.

The major increase seen in 2010 was linked to the rapid growth of the German and Italian markets. With 7.4 GW installed in just one year, Germany continues to lead the PV market world-wide, while Italy, installing 2.3 GW, starts to exploit its huge potential of solar resources. Other countries also saw significant growth. The Czech Republic experienced a burst to 1.5 GW in 2010 that is however unlikely to be sustained in 2011. Japan and the U.S. almost reached the gigawatt mark with, respectively, 990 and 900 megawatts (MW) installed last year. France reached over 700 MW, while Spain regained some ground by installing 370 MW after two years of strongly adverse conditions. Belgium connected more than 420 MW of PV capacity to the grid in 2010. In the EU more than 13 GW of new PV capacity were added in 2010 while the rest of the world accounted for almost 4 GW.

PV markets are stronger than they have ever been, and PV now appears on the energy map of several countries as a real alternative to conventional electricity sources. In several countries, grid parity for small-scale residential and commercial systems will be reached in the coming years. It is expected that PV reaches progressively competitiveness all over Europe by 2020.

“The evolution of the PV market in recent years has been heavily linked to the confidence and vision of smart policy makers in supporting the development of the technology” explains Wilhelm. “Adequate support policies that have been driving the markets so far, such as the Feed-in Tariffs, must continue and be ever brought in tune with the declining cost curve of PV. The PV industry also supports well-designed support schemes that simplify the authorization processes and moreover limit the cost for electricity consumers, while ensuring the development of the market and industry” he concludes.

With projections reaching from over 130 to circa 200 GW of globally installed PV systems by 2015, also the future trend is outstanding. Within the coming years, solar photovoltaic power is well on the way to becoming a fully competitive part of the electricity system in the European Union and an increasingly important part of the energy mix around the globe.