PARIS Ė Two-thirds of the world's photovoltaic capacity were installed in Europe in 2011, according to the 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report published by the European Commissionís Joint Research Center (JRC).
With a cumulative installed capacity of over 51 GW, the European Union is leading in PV installations with more than 70 percent of the total worldwide 70 GW of solar PV electricity generation capacity at the end of 2011, the report noted.
Over the past ten years, JRC observed that the PV industry has increased in Europe by an average of over 40 percent per year, and the production costs have dropped by about 60 percent. This progress is in line with Europe's goal of using 20 percent of renewable energy by 2020.
Germany, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom are the leaders in installed PV capacity in Europe. However, the report indicates that PV market conditions differ substantially from country to country. This is due to different energy policies and public support programs for renewable energies as well as the varying grades of liberalization of domestic electricity markets.
For the past decade, the report noted that the solar PV electricity generation capacity has surged 280 times, from 185 MW in 2000 to 52 GW at the end of 2011. A total of about 46.1 GW of new power capacity was connected in the EU in 2011 and 7.8 GW were decommissioned, resulting in 38.3 GW of new net capacity.
New installed or decommissioned electricity generation capacity in Europe in 2011
In 2011, JRC said PV electricity generation capacity accounted for 21.5 GW, or 56 percent of the new net capacity. As a comparison, wind power moved to the second place with 9.4 GW (25%), followed by 8.8 GW (23%) gas-fired power stations; 3.1 GW (8%) MW coal-fired power stations; 590 MW (1.5%) hydro, 470 MW (1.2%) CSP, 170 MW (> 1%) biomass; and 70 MW (> 1%) waste.
Worldwide PV Production 2011 with future planned production capacity increases
The report noted that the European PV industry is challenged by China's massive investment in PV manufacturing. However, the delivery of manufacturing equipment from Europe to Asia is still beneficial as Europe still has the lead in PV R&D, thereby innovating the European PV manufacturing equipment industry.
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