European and global solar PV markets continue growth

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association's (EPIA) new Market Report 2011 shows important increase in grid-connected capacity of PV systems, but warns changing economics will require development of new markets in the world.
European and global solar PV markets continue growth

The world-wide solar photovoltaic (PV) market continued to grow in 2011 even in the midst of financial and economic crisis, with new grid-connected PV capacities rising by 27.7 GW and propelling the global PV capacity from 39.7 GW at the end of 2010 to 67.4 GW at the end of 2011. Almost 21 GW of this growth occurred in Europe.

The number of markets reaching more than 1 GW of additional capacity during 2011 rose from 3 to 6. In 2010 the top 3 markets were Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic; in 2011 Italy leads the ranks and Germany, China, the USA, France and Japan follow, each with over 1 GW of new capacity. Those are among the key findings of EPIA's new "Market Report 2011", which assesses PV's development in all major markets around the world.

Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, the report finds, with 75% of all new capacity in 2011. The two biggest markets in 2011, Italy and Germany, account for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year. But the report also notes that in coming years it will be crucial for the PV industry to develop new markets.

"The PV industry is at a crossroads," said EPIA President Ingmar Wilhelm. "Whilst European markets have always outpaced home production, this will presumably no longer be the case in the years to come. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it during the last decade."

"Strengthening the PV momentum by adding additional markets of important growth can be considered the single most important achievement on the continued growth track of world-wide PV development. And yet, many markets - in particular China, the USA and Japan, but also Australia and India - have addressed only a very small part of their enormous potential. Moreover, several countries from large sunbelt regions like Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America are on the brink of starting their development," added Mr Wilhelm.

Key statistics of the report include:

Total installed PV capacity world-wide reached 67.4 GW at the end of 2011. PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity.

The growth rate of PV during 2011 reached 70%, an outstanding level among all renewable technologies.

The total energy output of the world's PV capacity run over a calendar year is equal to some 80 billion kWh. This energy volume is sufficient to cover the annual power supply needs of over 20 million households in the world.

In Europe, over 50 GW of PV systems were installed at the end of 2011. With growing contributions from Southern European countries, the average load factor of this capacity is increasing and will produce over 60 billion kWh on an annual basis, enough energy to supply over 15 million European households.

[Inset: Evolution of global cumulative PV capacity since the year 2000. Market growth contributions from Europe (orange) and from all other markets (yellow). Courtesy of EPIA.]

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