28 November 2012 – Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has been transformed into a commercially viable energy-generating technology in the past decade, and has shown robust growth even during economic slowdown, states a new report by energy expert GBI Research. Continuous technological advancements and a growing demand for clean and sustainable energy sources have led solar power to become a rising force, with Europe’s enthusiasm translating across the globe.
PV solar technology converts solar energy into electricity using photovoltaic modules, which are exposed to sunlight to generate a direct current. Multiple PV modules are usually connected to form a PV array to produce a greater output, and installed on the roof of a building, on the ground, as a building façade, or integrated into the building itself.
Europe led the global solar PV market in 2011, accounting for a share of 76.2%. Germany’s stable growth has seen it become the most developed solar PV market in the world, accounting for almost 40% of the total global solar PV market in 2011. However, Italy superseded Germany in 2011 in terms of annual solar capacity installed and connected to the grid, as the Salva Alcoa decree, which granted solar panel owners 2010 feed in tariffs (FiTs) if a system installed in 2010 was connected by June 2011, led to a flood of capacity installations in 2010. By the end of 2011, almost 9.0 GW of capacity was connected to the grid in Italy.
Nevertheless, Europe is expected to lose market share to emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region during the future, as countries such as India and China, along with Australia, are expected to grow enormously in terms of solar PV capacity installation. Increasing government support, growing electricity demand, and government targets to reduce dependence on conventional power resources are likely to drive the Asia-Pacific solar PV market in the future.
The global annual growth rate for the photovoltaic industry has been about 25%, even with the 2009 recession taken into account. Applied Materials Inc’s fourth annual solar energy survey conducted in June 2012 predicted that 98% of the world’s population will achieve solar energy grid parity by 2020. Despite the speculations surrounding solar parity, the decreasing prices of modules and sustainable nature of solar energy make photovoltaic cells attractive long-term prospects for mass power production in many parts of the world.
Global PV installations grew by 77% in 2011 over 2010 capacity, with 27.1 GW added in 2011 alone. The global cumulative installed capacity for solar PV is expected to reach 277.1 GW by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 15.9% during 2012 to 2020.