Monday, June 11, 2012

Global Solar Growth Continued Strong in 2011

The data above come from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (big PDF).  Expressed as year-on-year growth rates, the data look like this:

That is a pretty extra-ordinary growth curve.  Seeing what is already a decent sized industry ($82 billion in 2010) with a linearly increasing growth rate this high is an amazing thing.

It's not certain how long this will continue however:
European markets where PV has developed vigorously in recent years have reached, at least for the time being, a level that will be difficult to maintain in the two coming years. The market slowdown in Europe will not immediately be offset by market growth elsewhere in the world, but a rebalancing has begun. New markets around the world will have to be opened up to drive PV development in the coming decade just as Europe accounted for it until now.

Many existing markets – in particular China, the USA and Japan, but also India – have addressed only a very small part of their enormous potential for PV development. Moreover, several countries from large sunbelt regions like Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America are on the brink of starting their development, pushed by an increasing awareness of solar PV potential. As a whole, the global PV market will grow more sustainably, driven by the competitiveness of PV solutions rather than mainly by financial support schemes. But this Paradigm Shift will not happen overnight.


Michael R said...

"It's not certain how long this will continue however"

Figure 28, ibid, seems quite certain "this" (a linearly increasing growth rate) won't continue even past the end of this year.

Kenneth D. Worth said...

Very interesting article and report from EPIA. I am seeing solar panels popping up on rooftops all over Southern California (50% of North American installations by one source.) With the recent drops in the price of panels, solar really is becoming competitive with grid (FF) based power, at least in the higher cost, sunnier areas.

Even 45% growth over a decade or so will result in a tremendous growth in installed base, just doing the math 2870 GW by 2022 or almost three times current US generation capacity?

I guess the question will be are there materials limits to production of panels that will prevent such scaling. Some people, such as Stephen Leeb, think that there are. We'll see.

Alexander Ac said...

Ok, what will happen to solar industry when the government subsidies evaporate and when the oil price will plunge to 50 dollars per barrel, as now Credit Suisse fears?

I know, solar industry was virtually untouched by the first phase of debt-deflationary price collapse, but at that moment governemnts held the industry above water... at least in China :-)

And what will happen to Bob Hirsch's investment in tar sands???


HalFiore said...

What are the break-downs in the top chart? (The color bars.)

Windchasers said...


Solar is generally not in competition with oil. Oil is a fuel used for transportation, prized for its high energy density, and is far too expensive to use for electricity production.

So solar competes for electricity production with natural gas, coal, hydro, and nuclear power. The importance of fuel costs is different for each of these. Falling coal prices will do more to lower electricity prices than falling uranium prices, for instance.