Behind the headline news from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) that the world has passed the 100 GW mark in cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity, is the ongoing story of a shift away from Europe.
The fact annual installed capacity failed to grow to any significant extent is indicative of the troubles associated with a global oversupply of polysilicon and the trade disputes between China and the U.S., and Europe, but amid the gloom, Germany was still a world leader with 7.6 GW of solar capacity added and Italy was still the world's third largest market, with 3.3 GW.
China installed between 3.5 and 4.5 GW – EPIA expects to announce final figures in its annual report in May – to come in second behind Germany, with the U.S. fourth with 3.2 GW, Japan fifth with 2.5 GW and France sixth with 1.2 GW.
"The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011," said EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann.
He added, "The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source."
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