According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), this has been the "most important annual capacity increase ever and is particularly impressive in light of the difficult financial and economical circumstances during the past year".
In 2010, the Brussels-based organisation expects global cumulative installed PV capacity to grow by at least 40%, while the annual growth is expected to increase by more than 15%. During 2009, Germany remained the largest market, with Italy ranking second and Japan and the USA markets to follow. EPIA expects that Germany will remain the "largest market in 2010", while new markets in particular from Southern Europe, Asia and the US will grow "significantly".
Europe maintains market leadership
With a cumulative installed capacity of almost 10 GW, including around 3.8 GW installed in 2009, Germany remains the world’s largest PV market although the recently-announced feed-in tariff (FiT) cuts are expected to significantly affect the development of the national industry in the longer run.
In the mid-term, Italy appears to be one of the most promising markets with an additional capacity of some 700 MW to date in 2009. Besides high sun irradiation, the new Conto Energia, which should be announced in Spring, should continue to support the strong momentum of the Italian market.
The Czech Republic also shows growth in 2009 with 411 MW installed but, due to overly generous support schemes, the market is expected to shrink in 2011 - after another year of strong growth in 2010. “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.
Thanks to strong political will, Belgium made its entry into the top 10 markets with 292 MW installed in 2009. Due to a revision of the financial support scheme in early 2010, the market is expected to slow down slightly in 2010. France follows with 185 MW installed in 2009, with an additional 100 MW installed but not connected to the grid yet. In spite of a huge potential, this clearly demonstrates the importance for France to solve grid connection issues in order to allow the market to develop.
In Spain, the set-up 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 and clearly appears as a privileged source of electricity in the fight against climate change. Finally, Greece, Portugal and the UK are showing interesting potential for growth in 2010 and beyond.
Japan and USA leading the markets outside Europe
Outside of Europe, the EPIA says that Japan has positioned itself as the third largest market with 484 MW and shows important growth potential - thanks to favourable political support.
The US market finally took off "significantly" with around 475 MW installed in 2009 and appears as a potential leading market for the coming years.
China and India are also expected to boom in the next five years with an impressive array of PV projects in the pipeline. Canada and Australia showed significant market development in 2009 and are expected to open the way to the development of new markets. Brazil, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa are also seen as promising countries.
A bright future for PV
According to EPIA, the global PV market could reach between 10.1 GW and 15.5 GW of new installations assuming, respectively, a moderate scenario or a policy-driven scenario, representing a growth of 40% and 60% of the overall cumulative installed capacity compared to 2009 for the two scenarios.
In a policy-driven scenario, the global annual PV market could reach up to 30 GW in 2014 - based of course on favourable conditions established by policy makers, regulators and the energy sector at large. The announced world-wide PV production capacity would also be sufficient to cover the expected evolution of the market in the coming five years.