Is Europe Losing Its Lead In The Solar PV Market?


The world added more than 31 GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity in 2012 – roughly the same amount as in the record-setting year of 2011 – according to a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).

However, EPIA says the results of 2012 and the forecast for the coming years show clearly that Europe's leading role in driving the global PV market is coming to an end.

In 2011, EPIA says Europe accounted for more than 70% of the world's new PV installations; in 2012, this number was around 55%. This year, the association adds, it is almost certain that the majority of new PV capacity in the world will be installed outside of Europe.

EPIA says major findings for 2012 include the following:

– 17.2 GW of PV capacity was connected to the grid in Europe in 2012, compared to 22.4 GW in 2011.

– For the second year in a row, PV was the No. 1 new source of electricity generation installed in Europe; PV now covers 2.6% of the electricity demand and 5.2% of the peak electricity demand in Europe.

– Germany was the top market in 2012, with 7.6 GW of newly connected systems, followed by China with an estimated 5 GW; Italy with 3.4 GW; the U.S. with 3.3 GW; and Japan with an estimated 2 GW.

– Under a"pessimistic," business-as-usual scenario, EPIA says the global annual market could reach 48 GW in 2017; under a"policy driven," scenario, it could be as high as 84 GW in 2017.

"The results of 2012 signal a turning point that will have profound implications in the coming years," says EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann." The global PV market is shifting from one driven mostly by Europe to one that also depends on countries around the world with varying degrees of solar potential and the political will to exploit it."

"But some things will not change," Hoffmann continues." Even in challenging times, the prospects going forward for solar PV – a clean, safe and infinitely renewable power source – remain solid, especially the medium to long term. The main questions are how and where continued PV growth will occur and how committed policymakers are to making it happen."

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