Solar industry competition is at a record high as global solar energy capacity more than quadrupled from 9.5 gigawatts in 2007 to 40 gigawatts in 2010 and the overall global renewable energy spend is projected to more than double by 2030. This is fueling industry competition over the estimated US$7 trillion of new global capital to be invested by 2030. This has created a marketplace where photovoltaic companies in some countries are booming, particularly in countries with favourable subsidy policies like Germany, but what happens to a market flush with competitors when these incentives end?
"Germany is paving the way for photovoltaic technology development in Europe and around the globe, and has 44% of the global solar capacity to show for it. One of the main drivers of the growth of the German solar industry has been guaranteed electricity prices, which is a good example of how governments can support the industry," said Dr. Marko Delimar, IEEE Director of EMEA and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb. "This has a reverse effect as well – the photovoltaic producers are not equal participants in the electricity market, therefore work needs to be done for them to be prepared to participate in the market when this favourable treatment ends. This may happen much faster than expected, as in some countries like Spain or Greece, the regulatory photovoltaic support is already being stopped or slowed down."
The Future of Renewable EnergyThe nature of the global solar energy market has led to effective and rapid deployment in some countries, but the industry lags behind in others. While solar energy-related manufacturing and distribution is inherently localized, collaboration needs to happen globally for the world to effectively work towards a sustainable future.
"Countries like Germany, US and China already have very good technical standards in place that support the growth of the solar market. They are also among the countries with the biggest investments to foster a rapid adoption and market penetration both among the business and household sectors. We need to share their experience with the rest of the world, especially with countries whose climate conditions are best suited for solar. Cooperation among all key market players, supported by international standards can definitely push this market to success," stated Dr. Karl Weber, IEEE Member and Principal Expert Smart Grid, TUV Sud.
Dr. Juris Kalejs, IEEE Member and CTO, American Capital Energy, expounded on cooperation and collaboration as the main ingredient in this recipe for success: "Innovation is a critical component to driving success in any industry but we are already looking at state of the art technologies in the renewable energy markets. We now need to work on preparing all markets to cope with this sophisticated level of innovation through international collaboration and cooperation. The smart grid will be critical to helping solar utilities understand where they need to distribute energy; by sharing best practices and data obtained through modelling, we can drive an efficient solar industry that works for all nations."
IEEE Leads in Collaboration, Solutions"IEEE is in a unique position to provide a platform for dialogue and collaboration among key stakeholders to create a more sustainable global future," said Gordon Day, IEEE President and CEO. "IEEE members are industry leaders around the world and drive discussion and partnership through our publications, conferences and workshops while leading the way with universally adopted standards that deliver more cost-effective and efficient solar implementation worldwide."
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