Photovoltaics to double by 2015

According to the European Commission’s Research Centre, the photovoltaic market will double within the next 5 years. Europe is still the largest market in the world, but manufacturing is increasingly shifting to Asia.

Investments in solar photovoltaic energy could double worldwide over the next 5 years, from 35 to 40 billion euros in 2010 to over 70 billion in 2015. The latter was found by the PV Status Report 2011 compiled by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The growth will be achieved also by applying incentives in an increasing amount of countries, and also because of the continual cost abatement of photovoltaic components, which fell by 50% over the last 3 years.

Also, production was excellent in 2010: panels manufactured over the year accounted for 23,500 MW, more than twice the amount achieved in 2009. Compared to 1990, when panel manufacturing accounted for 46 MW, production increased by 500 times. If this growth will continue, by 2015 the global photovoltaic industry’s production capacity will reach 102,000 MW.

Panel manufacturing is increasingly shifting to Asia (the first two manufacturers, China and Taiwan, produce 60% of all the world’s panels), although Europe is still the largest market in the world, with 29,000 MW installed in 2010, accounting for 70% of the total (39,000 MW.

These optimistic forecasts must not overshadow the challenges to be faced. Indeed, the report warns that, in order to keep this growth constant, industries will have to reduce the amount of silicon used for each cell, increase thin film panel production and accelerate the development of high concentration photovoltaics.