Increased competition and the global economic crisis have cast clouds upon the Western European solar energy market, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. Falling polysilicon and solar module prices have the potential to cement China's role as a solar manufacturing hub.
In capacity, the U.S. is playing a greater role, as more and more states are putting the renewable energy standards in place, the report adds. Despite these market developments and the current economic crisis, the future of Europe's solar energy market continues to appear bright, as new emerging markets within Europe may turn into strong performers.
Europe and Japan were the original trailblazers of the solar energy industry and have historically held the strongest positions. Europe, specifically Germany, has been by far the most important player and manufacturing hub in the global solar market. Its position has recently started to weaken as other countries have been gaining stronger momentum in the solar energy business, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Meanwhile, the Chinese industry is forcing the rest of the world to reduce manufacturing costs, as they are in a position to manufacture solar modules at the lowest cost. The U.S., having adopted a pledge for energy independence that increased political support for renewable energy, is giving a boost to its solar energy industry.
‘When solar cell and module manufacturing come into play, Asian producers have been on an aggressive expansion curve, eating into Japanese and European manufacturers' market shares,’ notes Alina Bakhareva, green energy research manager at Frost & Sullivan. ‘Low costs and increasing technological acumen will help them further expand their presence in the global solar markets.
‘The U.S., having utilized only a fraction of its immense solar potential, has all ingredients to breed a strong and well-diversified solar market,’ Bakhareva adds.
Europe, however, continues to stands out on a global solar landscape as one of few markets that have been successfully developing the three major components needed to build a well-rounded domestic solar industry: research, a strong manufacturing base and government support.
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SOURCE: Frost & Sullivan