Solar Power Market by Photovoltaic and Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Technologies

Solar energy is amongst the most reliable and clean energy resources, and proves to be a viable alternative to fossil fuels that are currently responsible for polluting the environment and contributing to global warming. Solar energy is generated through various technologies viz. solar PV, solar thermal, concentrating solar thermal/power, and concentrated solar energy PV.

In all the four technologies mentioned above, solar PV is the biggest market; followed by concentrated solar thermal (CSP/CST). In the last five years, solar PV registered 60% average annual growth rate and CSP achieved 8%. Currently, the market for solar PV is bigger than CSP; thanks to huge investment, research and development, initiatives taken by the governments, and a number of projects in the pipeline. However, CSP technologies are expected to grow at a faster rate in future as new markets such as China, India, Brazil, Canada, Germany, and France open up. During 2011 – 2016, the CSP market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 44.9% and the solar PV market by 29.9%. At the end of 2016, cumulative installed capacity of CSP and solar PV is expected to be 8.6 GW and 219 GW respectively.

The most important factors that stimulate the growth of solar power market on the whole are unpredictable fossil fuel prices, need for disassociation of dependence on fossil fuel imports from areas of political volatility, environmental concerns over the green house gas emissions associated with fossil fuel use, government incentives, other support programs making solar power more cost competitive, and shift in consumer preference.

Many governments have set clean energy targets, and are trying to achieve them by switching over to renewable energies such as sun. Loads of developments are taking place at the global level; for instance, European countries are focusing the most on both, PV and CSP technology, whereas areas such as Germany, Italy, and Czech Republic have shown substantial growth in terms of PV installation. Spain has witnessed growth mainly in the CSP market.

Europe is the largest market; followed by Asia-Pacific and then North America. Germany alone shares almost 44% of the global solar PV market. Spain is one of two countries (U.S.. and Spain) getting concentrated solar energy installations. In Asia-Pacific, the major installations are taking place in countries such as China, Japan, and Australia. The rest of the world (ROW) region comprises Brazil, Middle East, and Israel; which are gaining attention from the major players of the PV and the CSP market considering the potential that these regions hold.