Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity continued its remarkable growth trend in 2011, even in the midst of a financial and economic crisis and even as the PV industry was enduring a period of consolidation. As they have for the past decade, PV markets again grew faster than anyone had expected both in Europe and around the world. Such a rapid growth rate cannot be expected to last forever, however, and the industry is now weathering a period of uncertainty in the short-term. But over the medium- and long-terms the prospects for continued robust growth are good. The results of 2011 – and indeed the outlook for the next several years – show that under the right policy conditions PV can continue its progress towards competitiveness in key electricity markets and become a mainstream energy source.
This report assesses the European and global markets for PV in 2011, and makes forecasts for the next five years. It is based on an internal analysis of data from industry members, national associations, government agencies and electric utilities. The figures presented were discussed and analysed by key players from the PV industry at our 7th EPIA Market Workshop in Brussels in March 2012. A note on the methodology used in this report: EPIA bases its analysis on PV systems that have been connected to the grid; the implications of this choice for how market growth is assessed and the differences between installations and connections are discussed in the Methodology section.
Our major findings for 2011 include:
- 29.7 GW of PV systems were connected to the grid in 2011, up from 16.8 GW in 2010; PV is now, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity
- 21.9 GW were connected in Europe in 2011, compared to 13.4 GW in 2010; Europe still accounts for the predominant share of the global PV market, with 75% of all new capacity in 2011
- Italy was the top market for the year, with 9.3 GW connected, followed by Germany with 7.5 GW; Italy and Germany accounted for nearly 60% of global market growth during the past year
- China was the top non-European PV market in 2011, with 2.2 GW installed, followed by USA with 1.9 GW
- The number of markets achieving more than 1 GW of additional PV capacity during 2011 rose from three to six: Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan, USA
Source: European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA)