Photovoltaic (PV), or solar cells, convert sunlight directly to electricity. Annual global production of PV cells increased nearly sevenfold, and cumulative installations more than fivefold, in the five years between 2003-2008. Production and installations continue to grow.
Europe is still the world leader in demand for PV systems and products. And the PV market has Germany and Japan to thank for PV education and demand. Although solar still has concerns about silicon raw material supply, cell and module efficiency, module reliability, under-performing modules, high prices of end-user systems, and affordable financing models that work for commercial, residential, and remote applications, as well as proper end-user education, solar finally got recognized in 2006 and there has been no turning back.
Germany originally offered “the feed-in tariff” to PV system owners, which helped many “electricity renters” become “means of production” owners. Demand for PV products in Germany surged due to its program. Meanwhile, Japan spurred PV system interest and growth through its subsidy program. In 2006, 68% of the global demand for PV technologies came from Germany and Japan.
As China and Taiwan competed with Japan for low-cost solar cells, increasing their
cell-production, Japanese manufacturers changed strategies, and went beyond conventional crystalline silicon cells to producing a thin-film technology. The Chinese market still remains small due to its remote-off-the-grid installations, despite impressive production numbers.
While China races Japan in production, Spain has become second to Germany in PV cell installations. Spain’s market is largely driven by a significant and guaranteed price for PV electricity. Spain surpassed its 2010 official target of 400 megawatts in 2007.
PV Crystalox, who got 84% of its 2008 revenue from solar cell producers in Germany and Japan, increased wafer shipment volumes by 21% percent to 230 MW. Although their long-term contracts continue, they are cautious, primarily due to fluxes in the current markets. They say that, “demand for solar modules has fallen as credit for major projects has dried up, while falling fuel prices have led to a drop in interest for renewables.” As a result, (energy giant) Royal Dutch Shell cancelled their large investment plans they had in wind and solar energy. Regardless, there is a general expectation that sales will continue to rise.
on behalf of the
BascoTec Internet Limited
Technologie Park 13
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