EU PVSEC: PV among fastest growing industries in the world

The tenth edition of the PV Status Report, published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), indicates that in 2010, the photovoltaic (PV) industry production more than doubled and reached a world-wide production volume of 23.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic modules.

The tenth edition of the PV Status Report, published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), indicates that in 2010, the photovoltaic (PV) industry production more than doubled and reached a world-wide production volume of 23.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic modules.

Since 1990, photovoltaic module production has increased more than 500-fold from 46MW to 23.5 GW in 2010, which makes photovoltaics one of the fastest-growing industries at present. 

In 2010, the world-wide photovoltaic production more than doubled, driven by major increases in Europe. For 2010 the annual market volume of newly-installed solar photovoltaic electricity systems varies between 17 and 19 GW, depending on estimates. This represents mostly the grid-connected photovoltaic market, as there are no reliable estimates available for the non grid-connected market. The report shows that with a cumulative installed capacity of over 29 GW, the European Union is leading in PV installations. By the end of 2010, European photovoltaic installations provided more than 70% of the total world-wide solar photovoltaic electricity generation capacity.

The photovoltaic industry has changed dramatically over the last few years. China has become the major manufacturing centre for solar cells and modules followed by Taiwan, Germany and Japan. Among the twenty biggest photovoltaic manufacturers in 2010, only four had production facilities in Europe, namely First Solar (USA, Germany, Malaysia, Vietnam), Q-Cells (Germany and Malaysia), REC (Norway and Singapore) and Solarworld (Germany and USA).

A special feature is the dramatic price reduction for solar modules by almost 50% over the last three years. This can be explained by the evolution from a supply to a demand-driven market and the resulting over-capacity for solar modules.  Business analysts predict that investments in PV technology could double from ? 35-40 billion in 2010 to over ? 70 billion in 2015, while they expect prices for consumers to continuously decrease.

Even with current economic difficulties, the number of market implementation programs is still increasing worldwide. Examples of such measures to promote the use of PV technology include renewable portfolio standards, and feed-in tariff tax incentives. Coupled with the overall rising energy prices and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this will continue to keep demand for solar systems high.

In the long-term, growth rates for photovoltaics are expected to remain high. The study concludes that in order to maintain the high growth rate of the photovoltaic industry, different pathways have to be pursued. There is a need to reduce the material consumption per silicon solar cell because the cost of silicon is one of the main price factors of such solar cells. In parallel, the manufacturing of thin-film solar cells should be increased and the introduction of concentrated photovoltaics (CPVs) should be accelerated. Concentrated photovoltaics (CPVs) is a new technology which substitutes semiconductor material with cheaper concentrating lenses, typically of plastics.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission?s in-house science service. Its mission is to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support for the conception, development, implementation and monitoring of European Union policies. One of the JRC’s seven institutes, the Institute for Energy and Transport (IET) provides support to EU policies related to both energy and transport. 

The Tenth Edition of the ?PV Status Report? gives an overview of the current activities regarding research, manufacturing and market implementation. The study, carried out by the JRC’s Institute for Energy and Transport, summarizes and evaluates the results of a survey of more than 300 companies worldwide. It looks at the global photovoltaic market and industry with special focus on the EU, India, Japan, China, Taiwan and the United States. It also provides an overview of current activities in research, manufacturing and market implementation in this sector.

Caption: World PV Cell/Module Production from 2000 to 2010 (data sources: Navigant, Photon International, PV News and own analysis. Credit: JRC.

 

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