Global solar PV installs of 2011

IMS Research gathers data on the global solar photovoltaics (PV) installations this year, including total GW increase, regional growth or stagnation, and growth by solar installation type.

November 15, 2011 — IMS Research gathers data on the global solar photovoltaics (PV) installations this year, including total GW increase, regional growth or stagnation, and growth by solar installation type.

Solar PV installations will rise by 24% in 2011, hitting 24GW (8Gw in H1, 15 in H2). With just 3% growth in Europe, America and Asia are fueling the global expansion. This year, Italy displaced Germany as the world?s largest solar power market, but diversification is the name of the game: 20 markets installed more than 100MW in 2011.

Figure 1. Top 10 PV markets in 2011 (and global installations share). SOURCE: IMS Research.

High inventory levels still dog the PV industry, meaning that the H2 surge in installs does not translate into increased PV component orders, reports Ash Sharma, senior research director for photovoltaics, IMS Research. IMS Research finds module inventory bloated at 10GW, inverter inventory unusually high at 6GW.

Europe: installations grew by 3%, dampened by slow-downs in German and Czech Republic installations, among other states. “Europe?s share of global installations will sharply fall from 82% in 2010 to 68% in 2011,” said Sharma, and new installations will fall to 50% in 2012. Also read: Europe’s photovoltaics trends show low costs, but low incentives and uncertainty

Italy: With 6.8GW of new capacity in 2011, Italy will overtake Germany as the world’s largest solar installation region, despite cuts to government incentives. The true size of the market in 2011 is contentious, depending on what is considered the size of the Italian market in 2010. Whilst IMS Research measures PV demand when a system is installed, other methods often consider connections, registrations or approvals leading to different market sizes. “There is much confusion over the size of the Italian market in 2010 and 2011 due to various data points for installations under the various ?Conto Energias?. IMS Research has analyzed module and inverter shipments to the country and cross-checked inventory levels at integrators and distributors to conclude that 4.5GW of new capacity was installed in 2010 ? despite a greatly higher number claiming the ?Secondo Conto Energia,? which expired at the end of the year,” explained Sharma.

The UK: IMS Research is adding the UK to its predicted top-10 2011 markets. The UK is set to leap from 45MW of new installs in 2010 to more than 500MW added capacity in 2011. Incentives play a controlling role: from attractive incentive levels kick-starting the market, to changes smothering large-scale projects, and year-end cuts creating a get-it-before-it’s-gone mentality. Also read: UK, Germany chop PV subsidies

America and Asia: The USA will become the third largest market this year, whilst China will be the fourth largest. Newer solar-installing regions will generate 85% of the global growth in installations in 2011, growing more in 2012. This diversity of customer bases is creating “short-term pain for suppliers,” Sharma said, but creates “long-term stability for the industry,” balancing government-by-government incentive spikes and drops. China’s provincial and national feed in tariffs (FITs) have jump-started domestic demand. “Installations in China could reach as much as 2.5GW this year, with IMS Research predicting a level of around 1.9GW to be most likely,” concluded Sharma.

Figure 2. 2011 PV installations by system type — growth per sector by MW installed. SOURCE: IMS Research.

Detailed analysis of PV installations in more than 60 countries is available from IMS Research?s quarterly PV Demand Database. For more information, visit

IMS Research?s innovative database, which is being used by many of the leading companies in the PV industry, provides forecasts for new annual installed PV capacity in more than 60 countries. The data is updated every quarter to provide the most up-to-date projection for each market based on the latest data, such as equipment and system pricing, and incentives.

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