IEA report: Installed solar PV capacity reached 137 GW in 2013

The International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power System Programme (IEA PVPS) on Monday published its 19th Trends in Photovoltaic Applications report examining PV market, industry, policy and research trends and activities as well as the integration of solar into the power sector in the 24 countries reporting to the IEA PVPS program.

The IEA PVPS’ participating countries include Australia, China, the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Turkey.

The report, which also looks at other key PV markets, found that feed-in tariffs remains the main market driver for solar and that Asia is leading in PV development.

"After years of PV market development in Europe, 2013 has been a year of growth in Asia and America," the IEA PVPS said. In total, countries participating in the IEA PVPS as well as other major markets installed some 40 GW of PV capacity in 2013 compared to just below 30 GW in both 2012 and 2011. This raised the total installed capacity in IEA PVPS countries to more than 125 GW, with further estimates placing the total installed capacity in the world higher than 137 GW.

Asian countries now represent the leading regional market for PV, with China and Japan representing 50% of all installations in 2013. American countries progressed while the European market shrank for the second year in a row. Asia installed 22.9 GW, Europe 11.2 GW and the Americas 5.3 GW.

Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) remain the dominant driver for PV market development with 74% of PV installations in 2013 having been underpinned by the incentives, according to the report. However, the IEA PVPS points out that for the first time, the share of distributed PV markets where self-consumption was at least partially driving the market, rose to 55% in 2013. Tenders represented less than 4% of the world PV market in 2013.

In 17 countries, the annual PV contribution to electricity demand has passed the 1% mark, with Italy at the top with 7.6 % and Greece and Germany above 6%. The overall European PV contribution amounted to around 3% of Europe’s electricity demand while PV contribution to the global electricity demand reached 0.87% in 2013. Australia has also passed the 2% mark and Japan 1.5%. Larger consumers of electricity such as China or the U.S. will require more PV capacity to reach this threshold, the IEA PVPS said.

The PV industry produced close to 39 GW of modules in 2013, with a market slightly above that level and production capacities at 59 GW. The lowest prices of modules stabilized in 2013, while the highest prices continued to drop. In addition, global PV sector revenue grew again in 2013 to $86 billion, following a drop in 2012, due to market growth and price stagnation.

The report stresses that "PV has extremely rapidly become a significant source of electricity in several countries worldwide. The speed of its development comes from its unique ability to cover most market segments, from the very small individual systems for rural electrification to utility-scale power plants (today above 300 MW in size)." The IEA PVPS adds that due to its broad uses, "PV prevails as an energy source of choice, as a consequence of the various characteristics that make it suitable for most environments."

The IEA PVPS Programme report can be downloaded here.