Global PV adoption: The GW club, and what regions are growing fastest

PV growth has made it a viable energy-generation technology in 2010. Major increases took place in Europe, says the EPIA, and Japan and the US nearly reached GW status. EPIA’s new report looks at solar photovoltaics growth by country and region, and queries what makes PV growth possible.

May 4, 2011 — Over the past decade, the photovoltaic (PV) market has experienced unrivalled growth among all energy-generating technologies. At the end of 2010, the global photovoltaic market has reached a cumulative installed capacity of some 40GW, with an added capacity of 16.6GW during 2010. These developments are just some of the highlights in the Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2015, presented by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

The PV market experienced unprecedented growth in 2010. Capacity additions grew from 7.2GW installed in 2009 to 16.6GW in 2010 thus making solar photovoltaic power the leading renewable energy technology in terms of new capacity growth in Europe last year. The total installed capacity in the world now amounts to around 40GW, EPIA says, producing some 50 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electrical power every year. “The numbers reveal the outstanding potential of PV to make major contributions to the energy landscape of the future. The currently installed global PV capacity produces power equivalent to the entire electricity consumption of countries like Greece, Romania or Switzerland,” explained Ingmar Wilhelm, president of EPIA. In the EU, more than 13GW of new PV capacity were added in 2010 while the rest of the world accounted for almost 4GW.

Around the globe:

  • The major increase seen in 2010 was linked to the rapid growth of the German and Italian markets. With 7.4GW installed in just one year, Germany continues to lead the PV market worldwide, while Italy, installing 2.3GW, starts to exploit its huge potential of solar resources.
  • The Czech Republic experienced a burst to 1.5GW in 2010; however, this is unlikely to be sustained in 2011.
  • Japan and the US almost reached the gigawatt mark with, respectively, 990 and 900MW installed last year.
  • France reached over 700MW.
  • Spain regained some ground by installing 370MW after two years of strongly adverse conditions.
  • Belgium connected more than 420MW of PV capacity to the grid in 2010.

PV markets are stronger than they have ever been, and PV now appears on the energy map of several countries as a real alternative to conventional electricity sources. In several countries, grid parity for small-scale residential and commercial systems will be reached in the coming years. It is expected that PV will reach competitiveness all over Europe by 2020.

“The evolution of the PV market in recent years has been heavily linked to the confidence and vision of smart policy makers in supporting the development of the technology,” explains Wilhelm. “Adequate support policies that have been driving the markets so far, such as the Feed-in Tariffs (FIT), must continue and be ever brought in tune with the declining cost curve of PV. The PV industry also supports well-designed support schemes that simplify the authorization processes and moreover limit the cost for electricity consumers, while ensuring the development of the market and industry,” he concludes.

With projections reaching from 130 to 200GW of globally installed PV systems by 2015, also the future trend is outstanding. Within the coming years, solar photovoltaic power is well on the way to becoming a fully competitive part of the electricity system in the European Union and an increasingly important part of the energy mix around the globe.

EPIA’s Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2015 is available for download on

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association photovoltaic industry association has more than 240 members drawn from across the entire solar photovoltaic sector. Learn more at

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