World solar PV installations up 40% in 2011; revenues up 12%

March 22, 2012
Santa Clara, CA--According to a new report from NPD Solarbuzz, worldwide solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations in 2011 were up 40% year-over-year.  

Santa Clara, CA--According to the annual photovoltaic (PV) market report entitled Marketbuzz for 2012 by NPD Solarbuzz, worldwide solar PV market installations reached a record high of 27.4 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, up 40% year-over-year (Y/Y) compared to 2010. And the PV industry generated $93 billion in global revenues in 2011, up 12% Y/Y. Worldwide solar-cell production reached 29.5 GW in 2011, up from 23.0 GW a year earlier, with thin-film production accounting for 11% of total production. Production from China and Taiwan accounted for 74% of global cell production, up from 63% in the prior year.

Solarbuzz says the growth was boosted by strong second-half demand ahead of further deep cuts in solar incentives. This followed a period of over-production in the first half that triggered the sustained price decline through the PV chain that came to characterize 2011. The dominance of Chinese manufacturers in crystalline silicon wafers, cells and modules grew, the share of thin-film solar declined, and demand in Asian markets grew rapidly.

Of the more than 100 countries worldwide covered in Marketbuzz, the top five PV markets were Germany, Italy, China, the United States, and France--74% of global demand in 2011. China soared 470% Y/Y, rising to third place from seventh in 2010.

The excess of solar cell production over demand during 1H’11 caused market-weighted average crystalline silicon factory-gate module prices to drop 28% in 2011, significantly more than the 14% drop the previous year. Furthermore, Q4’11 versus Q4’10 prices were down 46%.

Over the next 12 months, the Rest of World markets are projected to increase to 32% of global demand, from just 20% last year, while Europe loses share, dropping to 53%. By 2016, European market share is projected to fall below 42% as North America and several Asian markets grow rapidly. China is forecast to reach 17% of the world market by 2016.

"Aggressive cuts in incentives in Germany and other European countries have set up the potential for a global market decline in 2012, but ahead of these the rush to install is on, especially in Germany," said Craig Stevens, president of NPD Solarbuzz. "These cuts in tariffs will force companies to embrace self-sustaining marketing models earlier than they expected. Meanwhile, Chinese policy makers will face a decision whether to stimulate their domestic market even more than planned to support their globally dominant manufacturing base."

SOURCE: NPD Solarbuzz;

IMAGE: Germany continues to top the list as a major photovoltaic (PV) installer, but Italy is close behind. (Courtesy NPD Solarbuzz)

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