Washington, D.C., United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] Global production of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells increased 51 percent in 2007, to 3,733 megawatts (MW), according to the latest Vital Signs Update from the Worldwatch Institute, produced in collaboration with the Prometheus Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
More than 2,935 MW of solar modules were installed in 2007, according to early estimates, bringing cumulative global installations of solar PV since 1996 to more than 9,740 MW.
Over the past year Europe, led by Germany, surpassed Japan to lead the world in solar cell manufacturing, producing an estimated 1,063 MW of capacity in 2007. Thanks to government policies that guarantee high payments for solar power fed into the electric grid, Germany remains the world leader in solar PV installations, accounting for almost half the world total in 2007, according to Worldwatch. Approximately 40,000 people are currently employed in the PV industry in Germany.
“Thanks to strong, smart policies in countries like Germany and Spain, the PV industry is making great strides in efficiency and cost, bringing solar power closer to price parity with fossil fuels,” says Janet Sawin, Worldwatch Senior Researcher and author of the update.
Solar PV prices declined slightly in 2007, with greater reductions held back by the pace of demand and a continued shortage of polysilicon. Analysts expect more dramatic price drops, possibly as much as 50 percent in the next two years, as more polysilicon becomes available, production and installation are further scaled up, manufacturing efficiencies increase and more advanced technologies are introduced.