Despite a weak start to the year and a tumultuous environment for the world’s solar industry, solar PV installations will reach 24 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, a rise of 24% from the previous year.
Solar PV will rise just 3% in Europe, however, and Italy will displace Germany as the world’s largest market.
Although installations almost doubled in the second half of 2011, suppliers haven’t seen a surge in orders because of high inventory levels, according to IMS Research’s Q4’11 PV Demand Database.
Earlier this year, IMS Research found that solar module inventory stood at a huge 10 GW, and inverter inventory was at an unusually high level of 6 GW.
Italy is expected to be the world’s largest market for the first time, installing 6.8 GW. But slowing markets in Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries have dragged down Europe’s world share – which will fall sharply from 82% in 2010 to 68% in 2011.
While Europe is stagnating, the American and Asian markets are performing well and will generate 85% of the global growth in installations in 2011.
“The PV market continues to diversify in 2011; this will create short-term pain for suppliers that can no longer solely rely on one market to fuel their growth, but creates long-term stability for the industry by helping to balance the effects of a single country’s incentive policy and reduce large swings in supply and demand. This diversification is clearly continuing to happen and we have identified 20 markets that will install more than 100 MW in 2011, up from just 14 last year,” says Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director for Photovoltaics at IMS Research.
In fact, only four of the top 10 solar PV markets will be in Europe in 2011, and the UK will be one of those.
“Despite installing just 45 MW last year, the UK is set to install more than 500 MW in 2011 and become the 8th largest PV market. The attractive incentive levels helped kick-start the market, but the changes to the tariff during the year to prevent large-scale projects and the sudden cuts proposed for December have created a surge in demand,” explained Sharma.
IMS expects the US to be the third largest market this year, and China will be the fourth largest.
“Installation rates in China have rocketed since the introduction of provincial and the national FiTs; as China’s government seeks to provide domestic demand for its huge manufacturing base whilst Europe falters. Installations in China could reach as much as 2.5 GW this year, but 1.9 GW is most likely,” concludes Sharma.