Analysts: EU, Germany maintaining PV leadership

A pair of PV market analyses agree that Europe (and particularly Germany) is still in the driver’s seat for PV, with Japan and the USA coming on strong.

April 12, 2010 – A pair of analyst reports looking back on 2009 agree that Europe (and particularly Germany) is still in the driver’s seat for PV, with Japan and the USA coming on strong.

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) says that global solar PV installations were about 6.4GW in 2009, vs. total global capacity of >20GW — “the most important annual capacity increase ever,” particularly in light of the global economic quagmire. Top markets in order were Germany, Italy, and Japan, followed by the US. According to the EPIA, Germany’s 2009 PV installations were about 3GW, vs. about 9GW capacity.

Based on its own projections of inverter shipments, IMS Research says total global PV market at about 7GW in 2009, roughly 25% growth. German PV installations alone “grew massively” in 2009 to 3.8GW, with “an incredible” 1.5GW installed in December alone, according to the firm.

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Elsewhere in Europe, Italy is ramping up with an extra ~700MW capacity added in 2009; the Czech Republic had about 411MW installed thanks to “overly generous support schemes” (which will spur more growth in 2010, but cause the market to shrink in 2011), the EPIA notes. Belgium installed 202MW in 2009, but will slip slightly this year due to revisions in financial support. France had 185MW installed in 2009, with another 100MW awaiting grid-connection — illustrating the huge domestic problem in solving grid connection issues, EPIA says. Span’s market-cap established in 2008, compounded by the financial crisis, clamped domestic installations to ~60MW in 2009 — but PV accounted for 3% of electricity production in that country, a good sign, the group noted. Other European nations (Greece, Portugal, UK) are also “showing interesting potential for growth in 2010 and beyond,” the EPIA stated.

Outside Europe, Japan is a solid third with 484MW (and “favorable political support”), with the US coming up behind with ~475MW installed and “a potential leading market for the coming years,” says the EPIA. Also expected to boom are China and India with PV projects in the pipeline; new markets showing promise include Canada and Australia, and Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, says the EPIA.

So what to expect in 2010? IMS Research forecasts strong growth for the global PV market, about 43% to 10GW (new installations), as demand coalesces from different regions. The EPIA projects global cumulative installed PV capacity will surge about 40% with 15% annual growth, while the number for new installations will fall in a (notably generous) range of 8.2GW (“a moderate scenario”) to 12.7GW (“a policy-driven scenario”). In the latter case — with favorable conditions set by policymakers, regulators, and the general energy sector — the PV market could swell to 30GW by 2014, and “sufficient” worldwide PV production capacity to cover it, the EPIA says.

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