Solar Photovoltaic (PV) module production "almost doubled" in 2008, says new report

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre has published its eighth Annual Photovoltaics Status Report with some interesting findings...

According to the report, photovoltaics (PV) production in the world increased to about 7.3 GW in 2008, showing an 80% rise on the previous year. Europe's production of solar PV cells rose from 1.1 GW to 1.9 GW, while the installed capacity increased threefold to 4.8 GW, mainly led by Spain, where figures multiplied almost five times. The cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity in the world was around 15 GW, according to the report, with Europe accounting for more than 60% of this (9.5 GW).

The study, conducted by the JRC Institute for Energy (IE), gives an overview of current activities in research, manufacturing and market implementation in the PV sector. The report shows that European PV production has grown on average by 50% per annum since 1999 and its market share has increased to 26% in 2008. In terms of electricity generation, photovoltaics contributed in 2008 for about 0.35% of Europe's total electricity consumption.
Despite the massive increase, global investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency was hit by the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, together with demand reduction in the key Spanish market. But the industry is now showing signs of a strong recovery.
The report notes a significant slowdown in investment in the second half of 2008 (-10% in the third quarter; -23% in the fourth), that continued in to the first quarter of 2009 (-47% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008). However this has now started to reverse - in the second quarter of 2009 investment was +83% compared with the first quarter.
Other key findings of the report included:
  • In 2008, China became the leading producer of solar cells with an annual production of about 2.4 GW. If this trend continues, China could have about 32% of the worldwide production capacity by 2012;
  • An increasing number of players are entering the market, therefore the market share of the 10 largest PV manufacturers decreased from 80% in 2004 to 50% in 2008;
  • In 2008, thin-film solar PV modules had reached 12%-14% of market share;
  • Concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) is an emerging market with approximately 17MW cumulative installed capacity in 2008.


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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets