Solar PV sector reports record growth in 2009

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The global solar photovoltaic industry experienced strong growth in 2009, adding a record 6.4 gigawatts of new capacity despite the global downturn, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
The global industry exceeded 20 GW of total capacity, which EPIA described as "particularly impressive in light of the difficult financial and economical circumstances" of the past year. It expects global capacity to continue growing by at least 40% in 2010.
The strong growth was driven by feed-in tariffs that guarantee a preferential rate for electricity produced from renewable energy .
Germany remained the largest market, adding 3GW of new capacity to bring its total installed capacity up to 9GW. It was followed by Italy, Japan and the US.
The German market will likely continue to be largest in 2010, but new markets in Southern Europe, Asia and the US will grow significantly, EPIA said. Recently announced cuts in feed-in tariffs for June are expected to halt the development of the German market in the long run, while Italy is fast becoming one of the most promising markets with the expected announcement of a new feed-in tariff in the spring to continue to support growth.
Feed-in tariff cuts were mostly felt in Spain, where a market cap was set in 2008 after excessive subsidies had caused the market to overheat. The country therefore only installed 60MW in 2009, according to EPIA.
The Czech Republic showed strong growth in 2009 with 411 MW installed and is expected to continue growing this year, but the market is likely to shrink in 2011 due to generous support schemes.
"This underlines the imperative need for support mechanisms to be designed in a way to ensure a long-term, predictable and sustainable development of the market and avoid instability and discontinuity in market evolution," commented Adel El Gammal, EPIA secretary-general.
Photovoltaic electricity remains more expensive than conventional energy, but the European PV industry expects to become competitive in the next five to eight years with the help of government support.
Outside Europe, Japan positions itself as the third largest market with 484 MW and shows an important growth potential thanks to favourable political support. The U.S. market finally took off significantly with around 475 MW installed in 2009 and appears as a potential leading market for the coming years. China and India are also expected to boom in the next five years with an impressive amount of PV projects in the pipeline. Canada and Australia showed significant market development in 2009 and are expected to open the way to the development of new markets. Brazil, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa are also seen as promising countries.
The global PV market could reach up to 30GW annually in 2014, EPIA said, in a preview of a comprehensive outlook to be published later in April.

Tags: solar, photovoltaic, PV, renewables