According to IMS Research, a total of 14.6 GW of solar PV capacity would be added this year which would mark a 95 percent increase from the previous year’s figure. However, the research also notes that sales in the European Union could stagnate and new markets would drive growth in the coming few years.
The research has predicted a massive addition of 14.6 GW on the basis of data collected from 40 countries. More than 50 percent of these installations would come up in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic totally to about 9.8 GW of capacity addition. However, the growth could likely be shifted to developing markets such as Asia and North America in the near future.
According to the Marketbuzz 2010 report, a total of 7.5 GW of solar PV capacity was added in 2009 with Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic contributing about 77 percent to this growth. The United States and Japan were neck-to-neck in terms of capacity addition. This trend, however, could soon change.
Germany has been the undisputed leader in solar PV sector for years. It represented almost half of world’s total solar PV installation back in 2007. The German solar industry’s revenue for 2007 was almost $6 billion which is estimated to touch $10 billion this year. This accelerated growth is the result of the healthy subsidies that the German government offered in the form of concessions on installations and the flexibility to sell surplus power to the gird at higher rates through the feed-in tariff scheme.
These subsidies and feed-in tariff rates have now been slashed by the German government. The Upper House of the German parliament recently passed a legislation to reduce the subsidies to as much as 16 percent. Several analysts have predicted a significant decline in solar installation in the German market and the suppliers fear of mounting pressure on their profit margins.
In 2008, Spain was a major contributor to the global solar PV installations however, it, too, is planning to reduce subsidies support for solar PV installations. According to sources, the government could cut subsidies by as much as 45 percent possibly to reduce the financial burden as it attempts to fix the economy.
India has launched the National Solar Mission aimed at installing 20,000 MW of solar-based power generation by 2022. A significant percentage of that would comprise of photovoltaics. The government has announced several incentives for the solar energy sector.
Tax rebates on import of manufacturing equipment, tax holidays for large scale solar PV power plants, high tariff rates and flexibility to forge power purchase agreements with power exchanges or distribution companies and introduction of feed-in tariff systems with rebate for homeowners are only a few of the numerous incentives being offered by the Indian government.
Today most of the manufacturers import raw glass for making solar panels from other countries but under through the National Solar Mission the Indian government aims to set up two to three manufacturing hubs in order to drive down manufacturing costs and increase production.
The Chinese government too unveiled great measures to stimulate the solar PV market. The government introduced a law whereby all the power generated from any renewable energy source must be bought by the industry. Additionally, it unveiled subsidy of $2.93 per watt for all solar PV plants above the capacity of 5 kW making it easier for even small scale producers to earn handsome returns.
China is already one of the largest producers of solar panels with five of the ten largest companies present in the Chinese market. China’s Suntech, which ranks second globally, forged a deal with the China Development Bank worth $7.33 billion. Trina, another company got $4.40 billion in loan for the next five years.
Although the US politicians shamelessly continue to play partisan ping-pong on the clean energy bill, some direct action from the White House and monetary assistance by the various departments of the Obama administration marks significant progress in terms of infrastructure expansion as well as research & development. In the absence of a concrete national policy regarding solar energy there have been several small to medium-scale programs in various states to promote solar energy.
Solar manufacturing companies like Suniva Inc. are also expanding rapidly. The company recently added a 74 MW cell line to its 96 MW existing production line to bring the total manufacturing capacity to 170 MW.
It is clear that while Europe seems to have prematurely killed the solar energy infrastructure expansion cycle other big markets like India, China and the United States are at the beginning of that cycle. And looking at the policy decisions being taken in most of the developing markets it seems that these markets would drive the solar energy infrastructure expansion in the years to come.
Image Credit: pixor at Flickr (Creative Commons)
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.
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