How does the global photovoltaic market develop?

May 14, 2019

The 8% share of gross electricity consumption shows clearly: photovoltaics is an important pillar in the energy mix. What about the expansion of photovoltaics, how is the national and international demand developing? Which regions will experience above-average global growth?

 

The solar industry continues to be a growth industry

In summer 2018 many temperature records were broken in Germany. Apart from the negative effects, such as the extreme drought and high temperatures, it also ensured long periods of sunshine. As a result, solar systems were able to generate more than 46 billion kWh of solar electricity. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of 18 percent. At the same time, photovoltaics already covers around eight percent of Germany’s gross electricity consumption. According to statistics from the German Solar Industry Association, new capacity with an output of 2,960 megawatts was installed last year. Compared to the previous year, this means even an increase of 68 percent. These figures are an impressive proof that solar systems in combination with storage technologies will continue to make a decisive contribution to the successful transformation of the energy sector in Germany.

 

Photovoltaic systems for the energy turnaround

In spring 2018, the coalition agreement recorded that the share of renewable energies should rise to 65 percent by 2030. According to a forecast by Fraunhofer ISE, this will require an annual PV increase of around 5 gigawatts (GW). For this purpose, suitable areas are needed. The good news is that the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure assumes that there is potential for the expansion of over 300,000 hectares of unrestricted open space. This corresponds to an output of 143 GW. In addition, there is another nominal capacity of 275 GW on roofs, facade and other residential areas. Photovoltaics will certainly play a central role in the implementation of the energy turnaround. And today, it is already playing a more than successful role. On sunny days, PV systems can cover up to 45 percent of electricity requirements, on Sundays and public holidays even up to 60 percent. And we all the win. In 2017, around 24 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided in Germany by operating solar systems.

 

Rising demand for solar systems worldwide

For this year, experts predict that the prices for photovoltaic modules will fall by a third. This will lead to a further increase in photovoltaic demand. China continues to be an engine of expansion: although the country has cut its solar subsidy, a new photovoltaic capacity of around 44 GW was installed in 2018. But not only China is working on new records. The USA, India, Japan and above all the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) are also recording a high demand. The Solar Outlook Report of the Middle East Solar Industry forecasts significant growth in this sunny region. Already today, the market in the MENA region has a total volume of 20 billion US dollars. According to the report, the region has the potential to produce the cheapest photovoltaic electricity in the future with one US cent per kilowatt hour. It is not without reason that we are represented in Jordan and Egypt…

 

Future developments and trends

New developments, continuous optimisation of technologies and lower costs have a positive influence on the position of solar power on the energy market. Research and development departments are constantly increasing the performance of photovoltaic modules. At the same time, the expansion of production capacities is lowering prices. The limiting factor in Germany and Europe in the long term will be the availability of suitable locations for ground-mounted systems. But here, too, alternatives are being researched under the heading of agro-photovoltaics: a combination of agricultural land and PV systems can reduce the amount of land required and enable simultaneous energy and food harvesting. To do this, the PV systems are simply installed higher up. The areas below are used for agricultural purposes. In addition, open spaces in populated areas still offer a lot of untapped potential. In the meantime, many municipalities are reacting and promoting a more intensive use of roof areas and already sealed areas. In Tübingen, for example, PV systems are mandatory on roofs for new buildings.

As a manufacturer of mounting systems for photovoltaic systems, we are optimistic about the PV market in view of the latest developments. Every photovoltaic module must find a safe place over the years. Our mounting systems and fastening systems for photovoltaic systems serve this purpose. In short: It remains exciting!

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