Europe, led by Germany, installed 2/3 of world’s solar PV capacity in 2011

by James Martin II on September 27, 2012

Solar Panel

Europe installed more than 2/3–at 18.5 gigawatts (GW)–of solar photovoltaics (PV) systems in the year 2011, clearly leading the world and bringing the total capacity of solar panels installed in the EU up to 52GW, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC)’s 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report.

The JRC report covers the goings-on in the solar PV industry across the globe–from manufacturing, policy, through to market implementation and technology deployment. According to the report, the United Kingdom came in 7th place for newly installed solar PV capacity in the EU in 2011, after Germany, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, France, and Belgium. The UK was in 4th place for cumulative installed capacity for 2011, after Germany, Spain, and the Czech republic.

Uptake in the UK was driven mainly by its Solar Feed-in Tariff and other incentives for large-scale solar and solar farms. Despite reductions in these incentives, the report also points out that installed solar PV capacity is likely to continue growing, given that the cost of the technology, like other renewables, is falling while the cost of power from fossil fuels is projected to continue rising.

Cumulative installed solar PV capacity by country. Source: JRC 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report Cumulative installed solar PV capacity by country. (Click to enlarge. Source: JRC 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report.)

Although the fact that the EU is the clear leader in installed capacity is good news for end-use customers and installers, the EU solar panel manufacturing industry is facing hard times. The last 5 years have seen a massive ramping up of solar system component production in Asia, particularly China, the JRC report said. This has resulted in increased competitive pressure among manufacturers, pulling down price points globally and resulting in the insolvency of a number of EU-based solar PV manufacturing companies. This market consolidation is expected to continue over the next year or so, beginning to stabilise in 2013.

Meanwhile, world leader Germany has set yet another solar PV record, having reportedly installed a phenomenal 320 megawatts (MW) of new capacity in the month of August, according to initial estimates. This pushes the country’s solar capacity above 30GW–more than the rest of Europe combined.

© 2012 Solar Selections Ltd

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