The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) released today its new report "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018" that assesses global and European photovoltaic (PV) markets in 2013, makes forecasts for the next five years, and analyses the role of PV within the European energy sector.
Compared to the two previous years, where global installed capacity hovered slightly above 30 GW annually, the PV market progressed remarkably in 2013, reaching a new record-level of 38.4 GW. Nevertheless, for the first time since 2003, Europe, with nearly 11 GW connected to the grid in 2013, lost its leadership to Asia.
After many years of growth and innovation, the PV industry is again going through a challenging period, with shifting market dynamics and a different geographical focus. In Europe, changing political support has created a climate of uncertainty that will hamper the re-development of the PV market. But outside Europe, the potential for growth remains intact and the various projects appearing in dozens of countries could transform into real market take-off.
Going forward, the key issues that will play a role in determining how market evolution takes place include:
- Policy: The PV market remains in most countries a policy-driven market, as shown by the significant market decrease in countries where harmful and retrospective political measures have been taken. However, with the right decisions creating smart and sustainable support schemes for PV, markets can continue to grow in a number of countries
- Competitiveness: In some countries in some segments, PV is already competitive with other power sources in terms of levelised cost of electricity. In other countries, it is rapidly moving towards cost-competitiveness. Grid and market integration challenges should be addressed without delay in order not to further hamper future PV development
- Industry consolidation: With a global PV modules overcapacity that is less acute than one or two years ago, prices have stabilised in 2013 and the return to profitability should allow companies to invest again. This could in return lead to prices of new technology declining in the coming years and new markets opening for PV
The enormous potential of solar PV and its benefits for society are more obvious than ever. PV is becoming a mainstream player within the power system. Under all scenarios, PV will continue to increase its share of the energy mix in Europe and around the world, increasingly delivering clean, safe, affordable and decentralised electricity to people.