PARIS – Worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations grew to 27.4 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, up 40 percent year over year. The PV industry generated $93 billion in revenues in 2011, up 12 percent year over year, according to market watcher Solarbuzz LLC.
The new Solarbuzz annual PV market report indicated that worldwide solar cell production amounted to 29.5 GW in 2011, compared to 23.0 GW in 2010. Thin-film production represented 11 percent of total production.
The excess of solar cell production over demand in the first half of 2011 implied that market-weighted average crystalline silicon factory-gate module prices declined by 28 percent in 2011. This compares to a 14 percent drop in 2010.
According to Solarbuzz, the top five PV markets in 2011 were Germany, Italy, China, the United States and France, accounting for 74 percent of global demand. The market research company highlighted that China rocketed by 470 percent year over year, moving from the seventh place in 2010 to the third place in 2011.
In 2011, Solarbuzz noted that European countries represented 67 percent, or 18.7 GW, of world demand. This contrasts with 82 percent in 2010.
Figure 1: Major PV country markets (GW)
Looking ahead, Solarbuzz said it predicts that, over the next five years, factory-gate module prices will decrease by between 43 percent and 53 percent, from just 20 percent last year. Average c-Si factory-gate prices in 2012 are expected to be at least 29 percent lower than the 2011 average.
Europe is expected to lose share, to 53 percent, over the next twelve months and even to fall below 42 percent by 2016. Inversely, North America and several Asian markets are set to grow rapidly. China, for instance, is predicted to represent 17 percent of the global market by 2016, according to Solarbuzz.
“Aggressive cuts in incentives in Germany and other European countries have set up the potential for a global market decline in 2012, but ahead of these the rush to install is on, especially in Germany,” declared Craig Stevens, president of NPD Solarbuzz.
Stevens continued: “These cuts in tariffs will force companies to embrace self-sustaining marketing models earlier than they expected. Meanwhile, Chinese policy makers will face a decision whether to stimulate their domestic market even more than planned to support their globally dominant manufacturing base.”
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