Science

Solar Energy Dominance Expected To Shift

By Zach White , Mar 11, 2013 06:56 PM EDT
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It looks like 2013 is shaping up to be a crazy year for worldwide solar photovoltaic energy, with prices and expected installation rates wildly rising and diving all over the world.

According to the latest NPD Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2013 report, the difference between the solar photovoltaic progress in Europe and Asia is as stark as night and day.

Europe has been a traditional renewable energy powerhouse. Germany has long led the world in the manufacture, sale and deployment of photovoltaic solar panels, even though the comparatively overcast country has much less sunlight to utilize than countries in the Middle East, Africa, or even the southwestern United States.

But the study found that Europe might not carry that crown for much longer.

“Due to further reductions in European premium incentives, demand in this region will fall to approximately 12 GW, which is a 26% Y/Y decline,” the NPD report summary says.

Basically the incentives, mostly government subsidies, that European governments have been using to claim their spot at the top of the world’s renewable game have fallen victim to the waves of austerity cuts that have come out of the ongoing global recession that Europe has been particularly stuck in.

Also, the previous wide adoption has cut the current necessity, but in China, they are just getting going.

“2013 will represent another transition year, as the PV industry adjusts to softness across legacy European markets,” Michael Barker, senior analyst at NPD Solarbuzz, said. “The Chinese end-market will largely compensate for the downturn in demand from Germany, which previously led PV demand.”

Demand across Asia, including markets in China, Japan and India, will be working with ever decreasing prices to pick up most of Europe’s slack.

“In 2013, we expect to see improvement in the market fundamentals that enable PV demand to return to double-digit growth,” Barker said. “Installed-system prices will continue to fall, and PV will become increasingly cost competitive across regions with high electricity rates, shortages in domestic supply, and growing renewable obligations to fulfill.”

The report also estimates this year seeing the start of large growth in previously smaller markets in developing countries.

“New PV opportunities from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and other emerging regions will have a stronger impact on global demand from 2014 onwards,” Solar Buzz’s summary of the report says. “Emerging regions are forecast to account for less than 8% of global demand during 2013; however, this market share is expected to double by 2017, driven primarily by South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Israel, and Mexico.”

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