Feed in Tariffs Drive Solar PV Expansion in Europe
The world is experiencing an explosion of photovoltaic solar power system installations, with the European Union leading the race in clean energy generation. Germany tops the ranking in new solar energy system installed capacity, followed by Spain, thanks largely to those countries’ supportive feed-in tariff policies. China remains the largest manufacturer of solar PV technology.
Report from Energy Matters (7 September 2010):
The world is experiencing an explosion of photovoltaic solar power system installations, with the European Union leading the race in clean energy generation.
In 2009, newly installed photovoltaic (PV) cells world-wide produced a peak amount of electricity estimated at 7.4 GW, out of which 5.8 GW was located in Europe, according to the ninth annual Photovoltaics Status Report published today by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre(JRC).
Germany tops the ranking in new solar energy system installed capacity, followed by Spain, thanks largely to those countries’ supportive feed-in tariff policies, which pay households and businesses a premium rate for electricity fed back into the national grid.
The JRC report found China remains the largest manufacturer of photovoltaic cell technology, producing 4.4 GW in 2009 as compared to 2.4 GW in 2008. Taiwan (1.6 GW and 0.8 GW respectively) and Malaysia, whose production grew from 0.16 GW to 0.72 GW also lead the field.
Such is the success of renewable energy generation in the EU that another study by German energy agency DEA, to be discussed at a conference in Berlin later this year, recommends many countries on the continent will need to massively enlarge their energy grids to meet the combined demands of isolated wind and solar power stations and ambitious renewable energy targets.
Italy alone, which trailed only Germany in new solar PV system installations in 2009, will need to expand its power grid by 170 percent by 2050 to ensure the north of the country maintains energy access to the production-heavy south.
Other key findings of the report:
- Wafer-based silicon is still the main technology for solar cells and represented 80% of the market share in 2009.
- The market share of thin-film solar products has increased from 6% in 2005 and 10% in 2007 to 16-20% in 2009.
- Concentrating photovoltaics (which uses lenses to concentrate sunlight on to photovoltaic cells) is an emerging technology growing at a fast pace, although from a low starting point.
The existing photovoltaic technology mix is a solid foundation for future growth of the sector, as no single technology can satisfy all the different consumer needs.
The variety of photovoltaic technologies is an insurance against a “roadblock” for the implementation of solar photovoltaic electricity if material limitations or technical obstacles restrict the further development or growth of a single technology pathway.