PV Module Production Doubles in 2008

Solar photovoltaic module production world-wide almost doubled in 2008, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s eighth Annual Photovoltaics Status Report.

According to the analysis, global PV production increased to about 7.3 GW in 2008, an 80% rise on the previous year.

Europe’s production of solar cells rose from 1.1 GW to 1.9 GW, while the installed capacity increased threefold to 4.8 GW. This was mainly led by Spain, where installed capacity almost quintupled from 560 MW in 2007 to 2.5–2.7 GW.

The cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity in the world was around 15 GW, with Europe accounting for more than 60% of this (9.5 GW).

The study, conducted by the JRC Institute for Energy (IE), gives an overview of current activities in research, manufacturing and market implementation in this sector. The report shows that European PV production has grown on average by 50% per annum since 1999 and its market share has increased to 26% in 2008. In terms of electricity generation, photovoltaics contributed in 2008 for about 0.35 % of Europe’s final electricity consumption.

However, the report does note that global investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency was hit by the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, “but is now showing signs of a strong recovery.” Identifying a significant slowdown in investment in the second half of 2008 (-10% in the third quarter; -23% in the fourth), that continued in the first quarter of 2009 (down 47% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008), this trend started to reverse in the second quarter (+83% compared with the first quarter of 2009).

The analysis names China as the new leading producer of solar cells, with an annual production of about 2.4 GW, followed by Europe with 1.9 GW, Japan with 1.2 GW and Taiwan with 0.8 GW. Should this trend continue, China might be expected have secured about 32% of world-wide production capacity by 2012.

In addition, the document argues that an increasing number of producers are entering the market, therefore, the market share of the 10 largest PV manufacturers decreased from 80% in 2004 to 50% in 2008.

In other market news, the report says that in 2008, thin-film solar modules reached 12-14% of market share while concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) emerged as a market with approximately 17 MW of cumulative installed capacity in 2008.