The global solar photovoltaic market recorded approximately 6.4 GW of installed capacity in 2009 to reach a total capacity of over 20 GW, according to a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
This year, global cumulative installed PV capacity is expected to grow by at least 40%, while annual growth is expected to increase by more than 15%.
During 2009, Germany remained the largest market. Italy ranked second, and Japan and the U.S. ranked third and fourth, respectively. Germany is expected to remain the largest market in 2010, although feed-in-tariff reductions will significantly affect the development of the country's solar market in the long term.
Meanwhile, new markets in southern Europe, Asia and the U.S. will grow significantly this year, EPIA says. Italy has become one of the most promising markets, with an additional capacity of 700 MW in 2009. In addition to strong solar resources, the country's new Conto Energia, which is expected to be announced this spring, will continue to support the strong momentum of the Italian market.
The Czech Republic showed notable growth in 2009, with 411 MW installed, but due to overly generous support schemes, the market is expected to shrink significantly in 2011 after another year of strong growth in 2010, according to EPIA's report.
‘This underlines the imperative need for support mechanisms to be designed in a way to ensure a long-term, predictable and sustainable development of the market and avoid instability and discontinuity in market evolution,’ explains Adel El Gammal, secretary general of EPIA.
In 2009, Belgium entered the top 10 PV markets, with 292 MW installed. However, due to a revision of the financial support scheme early this year, this market is expected to slow down slightly this year.
France follows in the rankings, with 185 MW installed in 2009 – and an additional 100 MW installed but not yet connected to the grid. This disparity demonstrates the urgency for France to solve its grid-connection issues in order to allow the market to develop, EPIA says.
In Spain, the introduction of a market cap in 2008, combined with the effects of the financial crisis, constrained the market to only about 60 MW installed in 2009. However, PV accounted for about 3% of the electricity production in the country in 2009.
Finally, Greece, Portugal and the U.K. are showing strong potential for growth this year and beyond. In addition, Japan had 484 MW installed in 2009 and demonstrates significant growth potential due to favorable political support.
The U.S. market finally took off significantly in 2009, with around 475 MW installed, and appears to be a potential leading market in the coming years, the report adds. China and India are also expected to boom in the next five years, with an impressive number of PV projects in the pipeline.
Finally, Canada and Australia showed significant market development in 2009, EPIA says. Brazil, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa have also proven to be promising countries for PV.