Two years ago, Europe accounted for more than 70% of the worlds new PV installations. In 2012, the number was around 55%; this year, it is almost certain that the majority of new PV capacity in the world will be installed outside of Europe, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Associations (EPIAs) "Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013-2017" report.
EPIA also found that PV capacity dropped in Europe, with 17.2 GW of capacity connected to the grid last year compared to 22.4 GW in 2011.
PV was nevertheless the number-one new source of electricity generation installed in Europe for the second year in a row. PV now covers 2.6% of the electricity demand and 5.2% of the peak electricity demand in Europe.
Germany led the market in 2012 with 7.6 GW of newly connected systems, followed by China with an estimated 5 GW; Italy with 3.4 GW; the U.S. with 3.3 GW; and Japan with an estimated 2 GW.
Overall, PV saw another year of high-volume installations in 2012 with more than 31 GW of new capacity added globally, slightly more than the 30.4 GW in 2011, says EPIA. It adds that PV remains, after hydro and wind power, the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity.
The study stresses that the world saw significant market growth despite a period of economic crisis and industry consolidation. Yet the results of 2012 and the forecast for the coming years clearly show that Europes leading role in driving the global PV market is coming to an end.
Looking forward, the study predicts, "Under a pessimistic business-as-usual scenario, the global annual market could reach 48 GW in 2017; under a policy-driven scenario, it could be as high as 84 GW in 2017."
EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann added, "The results of 2012 signal a turning point that will have profound implications in the coming years. The global PV market is shifting from one driven mostly by Europe to one that also depends on countries around the world with varying degrees of solar potential and the political will to exploit it."