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EU still dominates solar PV market

The EU still dominates the solar photovoltaic (PV) market in terms of new installations, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JCR).

The annual Photovoltaic Status Report shows that 7.4 GWp of solar PV was installed worldwide in 2009, of which 5.8 GWp was installed in Europe.

By the end of 2009, Europe’s cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity was 16 GW – around 73% of the world’s total of 22 GW.

Of total new power capacity in the E (27.5 GW), solar PV accounted for 5.8 GW – around 21%.

Most of the growth was in Germany with 3.8 GW reaching a total of 9.8 GW installed, which cements Germany’s top place in terms of cumulative installed solar PV capacity in the world. Spain follows with 3.5 GW of cumulative capacity.

After Germany and Spain, the solar PV growth ranking is as follows:

  • Italy: 730 MW (1.2 GW cumulative)
  • Japan: 480 MW (2.6 GW cumulative)
  • USA: 460 MW (1.65 GW cumulative)
  • Czech Republic: 410 MW (460 MW cumulative)
  • Belgium: 300 MW (360 MW cumulative)

Despite the increases in solar PV installations in the EU, only 0.4% of total supplied electricity came from solar PV in 2009. On a worldwide basis, the share is 0.1%.

Solar PV production

Solar PV production increased worldwide to 11.5 GW in 2009 – up 56% from 2008. However, in the EU, solar PV production amounted to 2 GW, only up 5%.

Leaders in solar PV production were:

  • China: 4.4 GW +83%
  • Taiwan: 1.6 GW +100%
  • Malaysia: 720 MW 350%

Despite a number of players announcing reductions in or cancellations of plans to expand solar PV production worldwide in 2008 and 2009, new entrants have made up and even exceeded the shortfall. New entrants were dominated by large semiconductor and/or energy-related companies.

From supply to demand dominance

A major shift in 2009 was the move from a supply- to a demand-driven logic in the solar PV market. This has resulted in a dramatic price reduction of almost 50% over 2 years for solar PV with an average selling price of less than €1.5/W.

Different solar PV technologies

Wafer-based silicon is still the dominant solar cell technology representing 80% of the market share in 2009.

Solar thin-film has increased its market share from 6% in 2005 and 10% in 2007, to 16-20% in 2009.

Concentrating solar PV (CPV) is also growing at a fast pace, according to the report.

JCR says the existing solar PV technology mix is a “solid foundation for future growth of the sector, as not single technology can satisfy all the different consumer needs.”

JCR warns that data from 2009 may carry greater uncertainty than usual due to the difficult market situation and a decreased willingness of companies to report confidential data.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets