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United States: How long will Germany remain world’s largest PV market?

Published at: Aug 16, 2011
source: Power Engineer
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Germany was by far the world’s largest PV market in 2010, with almost eight gigawatts of new installed solar PV power. In one year, Germany has seen roughly 50 million square metres covered by about 40 million solar panels.

Germany was by far the world’s largest PV market in 2010, with almost eight gigawatts of new installed solar PV power. In one year, Germany has seen roughly 50 million square metres covered by about 40 million solar panels.

According to Solarplaza´s overview of the world’s biggest PV markets, more cumulative solar power has been installed in Belgium than in the whole of China. The German market in 2010 accounted for 50% of the world market. It was three times bigger than the number two: Italy. Both markets have a feed-in tariff providing financial incentives for consumers and business customers installing a solar power system.

The rapidly growing international solar industry leads to decreasing prices for module and turnkey systems. The overview of the world’s 10 biggest PV markets shows that all markets are still driven by financial support programmes. This situation is likely to change in the coming years. Support programmes are being reduced, and force the industry to lower their costs and prices. On the other hand, more solar PV markets are emerging. And the strongly reduced module prices – more than 60 per cent in three years – will make solar competitive soon in more of the sunny countries such as India, the USA, the Middle East and China. These markets have a huge potential and are climbing in Solarplaza´s overview of the world’s biggest PV markets.

The German market in 2010 was 40 times bigger than that of the number 10 – Belgium. The number three, Czech Republic, will disappear from the top 10 in 2011. The Government cut back incentives drastically this year. All other markets are likely to remain in the top 10 throughout 2011. But the order in the top 10 could change. Following the Fukushima disaster, Japan is focusing more than ever before on the development of a renewable energy supply, with solar energy playing a major role. An advantage for PV in Japan is the relatively high energy prices, which will make solar PV competitive there sooner than in other countries. Germany reduced its feed-in tariff levels in 2011 by 13%. So far in 2011, the market volume is 40 per cent less in size compared to the same period in 2010.

The Italian market, on the other hand, is growing faster than ever before. In the first half of 2011, the market volume was almost three times that of Germany. Italy is on its way to becoming the world’s number one market in 2011. And the cumulative installed solar power in Italy in 2010 is already more than the combined installed power of 50 States in the USA. In terms of total cumulative installed solar PV power, Germany will remain the number one, with more than 17GW currently installed. It will take Italy – or indeed any emerging giant market – at least two to three years to overtake Germany’s number one position.

Also rising will be China and India. While in Europe the leading countries are discussing and further reducing incentives (France, Belgium), India introduced a National Solar Mission, and China just recently announced its own feed-in tariff programme. Several new markets are emerging as well, from the Philippines to Israel and Canada to South Africa. The solar PV market is diversifying and shifting towards the sunnier places on the globe – a sign that solar PV as an energy source – and with it, its industry – is maturing. Economies of scale in the growing manufacturing industry and reduced incentives will lead to further reduced production costs. Photovoltaic solar energy is on its way to becoming a competitive energy source.

On the 5th of September, during the PVSEC Conference & Exhibition in Hamburg, Solarplaza will be hosting the Global Demand Forum V . Through short presentations, intensive discussions and interactive audience participation, this conference will bring its attendees up to speed on the current status of the world's leading and emerging PV markets and the global market forecasts.

For more information, visit  www.globaldemandforum.com

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