Solar Power Shines Brighter Globally

The solar market analysts at Solarbuzz have released their annual solar photovoltaic (PV) maket report for 2011, finding that last year was a year of aggressive growth for worldwide PV installations as it reached a total of 18.2 gigawatts (GW) – that’s 139% higher than 2009.

The numbers reveal that the top five countries by PV market size were Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Japan, and the United States—representing over 80% of global demand. European countries represented 14.7 GW, or 81% of world demand in 2010. The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic, which collectively totaled 12.9 GW.

solar farm

image via PG&E

The PV industry, noted the report, generated $82 billion in global revenues in 2010, up 105% Y/Y from $40 billion in 2009. Companies throughout the PV chain successfully raised more than $10 billion in equity and debt over the last 12 months.

For all the positives, there is noted caution. The big growth in Europe is likely to slow down considerably over the next few years, though. Solarbuzz’s report shows that Europe’s slice of the solar pie chart is likely to be cut down to between 45-54% by 2015, while the US and Asian markets will likely surge forward. The US, in fact, could end up being the fastest growing major country this year. The reason for the decline in Europe appears to be tied to an uncertain policy environment, which is something the wind energy industry there is already concerned about.

Craig Stevens, president of Solarbuzz, calls attention to the impact that policy changes are having on the market saying that “the industry has now entered a phase of tightening incentive terms” in important European markets. He went on to project that cuts in import and export taxes could out-pace cost reductions in the energy industry. While markets like Europe could end up declining over the next two years, The US, Canada, China and Japan are still poised for growth.

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