Strong growth in the United States will help compensate for stagnation in Europe as the global solar photovoltaics (PV) installations rise 24 percent to 24 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, according to IMS Research, an industry tracker.

Europe had driven PV installation growth in recent years, with Germany leading the way, but IMS said European installations will rise by a mere 3 percent this year as Italy shoves aside Germany as the world’s largest market, installing 6.8 GW of new capacity. Still, “The upswing in Italian installations won’t be sufficient to counter falls from Germany and the Czech Republic, and Europe’s share of global installations will sharply fall from 82 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011,” said Ash Sharma, the IMS senior research director for photovoltaics.

global PV installations, IMS Research
image via Shutterstock

The slowdown in Europe means that some 85 percent of the global growth in installations this year will come in the American and Asian markets, IMS said. While wrenching in the short-term, this shift could bring long-term benefits, Sharma said, “by helping to balance the effects of a single country’s incentive policy and (reducing) large swings in supply and demand.”

Despite global installations rising from 19 GW to 24 GW, PV component manufacturers are unlikely to see strong growth this year. The reason? High inventories. IMS pointed out that earlier this year, it “module inventory stood at a huge 10 GW,” while “inverter inventory was at an unusually high level of 6 GW.”

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