This was coming for a while now. But the amount of newly solar installed in Europe is beginning to fall both in amount and in global percentage. That’s according to the new “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013-2017” report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). The report found that the solar market is becoming increasingly global as for the first time the amount of installed PV ticked past the 100 gigawatt mark.
“The results of 2012 signal a turning point that will have profound implications in the coming years,” said EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann. “The global PV market is shifting from one driven mostly by Europe to one that also depends on countries around the world with varying degrees of solar potential and the political will to exploit it.”
The report found that 31 gigawatts of solar was installed worldwide in 2012, reaching just over 102 gigawatts of installed solar. “This capacity is capable of producing as much annual electrical energy as 16 coal power plants or nuclear reactors of 1 GW each. Each year these PV installations save more than 53 million tons of CO2,” the report stated.
The report also found that the trend toward a more worldwide solar market is occurring as well. “In 2011, Europe accounted for 74 percent of the world’s new PV installations; in 2012 this number was around 55 percent. In 2013 it is almost certain that the majority of new PV capacity in the world will be installed outside of Europe.” It said that of the 31.1 gigawatts of new PV installed in 2012, only 17.2 gigawatts of PV was connected in Europe. That’s compared to the 30.4 gigawatts of PV connected in 2011, 22.4 gigawatts of which was connected in Europe.
The slow down in Europe is occurring as solar incentives in countries like Germany, Spain and Italy are being ramped down now that they have significant amounts of PV installed. The report stated that there are still markets in Europe with strong and untapped potential for PV growth. “But this will occur at a more stable—and sustainable—rate than it has in the last few years. Going forward, the driving forces will be in countries like China, the USA, Japan and India,” it said.
Looking forward the report said that under a pessimistic, business-as-usual scenario, the global solar market could grow to 48 gigawatts market annually by 2017, which shows it will continue to grow. But under a more progressive, policy-driven scenario, it could grow to an 84 gigawatt annual market by 2017.
How the market and industry will grow will be largely dependent on four things: policy to encourage more solar, competitiveness with other energy sources, industry consolidation and how trade disputes are worked out over the next few years.