World photovoltaics market on growth course

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Following a consolidation phase in the photovoltaics industry over the last two years, the international market looks poised to continue expanding.

Current forecasts estimate a growth of at least 18% in 2014, with Asian markets expected to be the main driving force behind this development, followed by North and South America. However, the industry is also predicting a future boom in the Middle East, South Africa and Turkey, putting new regions on the future PV map alongside established markets. Newcomers benefit from the expertise and experiences collected by the European industry over recent years,ranging from intelligent grid integration, monitoring and maintenance of the installed capacity to the increasing level of storage of surplus solar power. Now, Europe is also leading the way in new business models for photovoltaics. As the most international platform for the world’s PV industry, Intersolar Europe 2014 promotes exchange between market participants and connects people from all four corners of the globe.

Despite working with different scenarios, market research companies and analysts are almost completely in agreement about market developments. NPD Solarbuzz, Santa Clara, USA, estimates a global photovoltaic demand of 45–55 gigawatts (GW) in 2014, which would mean a growth of 29% or more. However, even more conservative forecasts of 41 GW, as predicted by IHS Inc., Eaglewood, USA, point towards a growth of 18% from 2013. International photovoltaics markets are often driven by solar power feed-in tariffs, which are based on the German EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) and have now been introduced in over 60 countries worldwide.

International market incentive programs modeled on the German EEG

Different German market incentive programs are not only limited to using the solar power feed-in tariff as the basis for investment security; most importantly, they ensure a structural shift towards renewable energies, resulting in an increased share of renewable power in the grids. In many cases, they also regulate the amount of power transferred by providing clear instructions on grid integration. Many countries link this to a shift in focus in the energy supply – moving away from nuclear and fossil fuels and towards solar power. Many also see photovoltaics as a financially attractive alternative, especially due to the extremely high subsidies that conventional energy sources frequently enjoy.

Markets in sunny countries are undergoing dynamic development

Large-scale PV plants provide an interesting alternative for governments all over the world when it comes to national tenders for new power plant capacities or power purchase agreements. Even now, renewable energy often puts less strain on state budgets than the costs generated by conventional power production. In particular, this can be seen in new PV markets in countries with high solar irradiation and rapidly growing electricity demands, such as Saudi Arabia, Chile and South Africa.

In addition to positive international development, the European market has also consolidated its position following reductions in installation costs in particular. Even without a feed-in tariff, solar power is already competitive in many European countries. Europe will therefore remain one of the most important regions for photovoltaics as the expected addition of 10 GW in 2013 corresponds to a share of 25% of the entire world market. Solarbuzz predicts the European photovoltaics market to stabilize at around 2.5 GW of new capacity per quarter in the first half of 2014, and then start to gather speed in the second half of the year. Germany, Great Britain, Italy and France in particular will be the driving forces for getting the industry back on its feet.

Intersolar Europe – platform for international exchange

In the future, many young markets will face new challenges posed by developing business models for marketing solar power, photovoltaic products and systems. In these areas, as well as in grid integration and energy storage, many of these countries can benefit from the lessons learned in Europe over the past decade. In 2013, Intersolar Europe welcomed 50,000 visitors from more than 150 countries and 1,330 exhibitors from 47 countries. In 2014, the world’s largest exhibition for the solar industry will also provide a prime international industry meeting point. Under the motto Connecting Solar Business, Intersolar Europe brings people together – both at the exhibition and at the accompanying Intersolar Europe Conference taking place from June 2–5, 2014.

Source: Intersolar Europe

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