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Worldwide solar PV market reaches 6.43 GW in 2009

Worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) installations reached 6.43GW in 2009 – a 6% growth from 2008, according to the latest ‘Marketbuzz 2010 Report’ from market research and consulting company Solarbuzz.

The solar PV industry also generated US$38 billion in global revenues in 2009, and raised more than US$13.5bn in equity and debt, up 8% on the previous year.

Solar PV in Europe

European countries accounted for 4.75 GW, or 74% of world demand in 2009. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy and Czech Republic, which collectively accounted for 4.07 GW of solar PV.

All three countries experienced soaring demand with Italy becoming the second largest solar PV market in the world. In contrast, Spanish demand in 2009 collapsed to just 4% of its prior year level.

USA third

The third largest solar PV market in the world was the USA, which grew 36% to 485 MW. Following closely behind was a rejuvenated Japan, ranked fourth and growing 109% from 2008.

Solar cell production

Worldwide solar cell production reached a consolidated figure of 9.34 GW in 2009, up from 6.85 GW a year earlier, with thin-film production accounting for 18%.

Chinese and Taiwanese production continued to build share and now accounts for 49% of global solar cell production. Of total European demand, net solar cell imports accounted for 74% of the total.

The top 7 polysilicon manufacturers had 114,500 tons per annum of capacity in 2009, up 92%, while the top 8 wafer manufacturers accounted for 32.9% of global solar PV wafer capacity in 2009.

Price crash for solar PV

Solar cell production exceeding the market demand caused the crystalline silicon solar module price average for 2009 to crash 38% from the prior year level. This reduction in crystalline silicon prices also had the effect of eroding their percentage premium to thin-film factory gate pricing, Solarbuzz says.

2010 outlook

Looking forward, the solar PV industry will return to high growth in 2010 and over the next five years. Even in the slowest growth scenario, the global market will be 2.5 times its current size by 2014. Using the fastest growth forecast, annual solar PV industry revenues would approach US$100bn by 2014.

"Industry performance in 2009 was remarkable in that it managed to more than fully replace the 2.3 GW demand gap caused by the change in policy in Spain," says Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz.

"Looking forward, the industry will see a return to high growth, but in a low margin environment. Our analysis demonstrates that a wide range of start-up markets will help offset a slowdown in German demand in the second half of 2010."

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets