Photovoltaics Status Report Released
September 25, 2012

Europe Accounts For Two Thirds Of The World’s Newly Installed Photovoltaic Capacity

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

According to the 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report released by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Europe accounts for two thirds of the world-wide newly installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, with 18.5 GW. Europe's overall PV capacity is 52 GW. To put that into perspective against current energy consumption, 52 GW is enough to power a country the size of Austria, roughly 2% of the EU's needs.

The new report evaluates and summarizes current activities in manufacturing, policies and market implementation of PVs worldwide.

During the last decade, the PV industry has grown in Europe by an average of 40% per year, and production costs have dropped by 60%. The EU commitment to using 20% of renewable energy by 2020 has pushed this progress towards PV systems.

Countries that lead the way in installed PV capacity include Germany, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, France, Belgium and the UK.

In the last 12 years worldwide, total PV production saw growth rates of between 40 and 90%, with the most rapid growth in the last five years in Asia. China alone accounts for more than 50% of the world's PV production. For the second year in a row, solar power was the renewable energy that attracted the most investment, with a worldwide expenditure of 98.5 billion Euros.

China's massive investment in PV manufacturing has led to an economy of scale in manufacturing in that country, creating a challenge for European industry in this field. Europe still leads in PV research and development, which is pushed by the demand for manufacturing equipment deliveries to Asia.

One of the highlights of the report shows that PV technology and its deployment is a global business. Future generations of PV technologies could spring from international cooperation on eco-innovation, in partnership with Asia and the United States.

Moreover, the report highlights the large scope for PV innovation in the achievement of both energy efficiency and improved design in buildings. PV modules can be incorporated and specifically designed as building materials. They could function as insulation material and foster a new drive towards "PV-architecture," all the while providing one of the key technologies required for zero emissions buildings.