EU PVSEC: Stagnating global PV installations till 2020 or 100 GW cumulative capacity?

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The high number of attendees is in stark contrast to the partly warning, partly skeptical outlook on the future of the European solar industry, as communicated by several of the speakers at the opening conference of the 31st EU PVSEC, held yesterday in Hamburg.

"It will be difficult for a European industry to be competitive, when there is no European market," stated Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable energy division at the International Energy Agency (IEA). He further raised the question of why decentralized distributed power supply is taking off across the world, and not in Europe.

Responding to his own question, Frankl said that in Europe, several factors have come together: there is less sunshine compared to other parts of the world; energy demand will not rise; there is supply overcapacity; and problems with network integration. And it would not exhaust all potential, which lies in self-consumption. There is a need, he continued, for new business models, like those in Australia, which is, for example, more advanced in this sector.

Global installations

Overall, the IEA sees a slowing down in the global solar PV market. In two weeks, it will publish its new report, however a few figures were already available: in 2015, it anticipates that 45 GW of new solar PV installations will be seen.

In the IEA’s main scenario, it doesn’t see this figure rising, although in its positive scenario it says 55 GW of new annual installations could be reached. "I’m not saying that it can’t be more," said Frankl, "but obstacles must be removed." This is much less than the 57 GW the analysts at IHS expect to see

Eicke Weber, director at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, went even further, stating that a cumulative 100 GW capacity is realistic. It is just a question of how much of a role Europe will play, he said.

Most important

2,200 participants have already registered at this year’s EU PVSEC, and more are expected, said the organizers. As such, last year’s figures – where 3,000 participants registered during the week – could be exceeded. The adjacent solar tradeshow begins today, Tuesday.

In the words of Stefan Rinck, CEO of Singulus Technologies amd chairman of the event, the EU PVSEC has established itself as the most important conference worldwide for PV experts. This also helps to explain why attendee numbers are so high. Of those pre-registered, 28% came from Germany and 5% from France and the Netherland, respectively. Of the non-European participants, Japan leads with 7%, followed by China, the U.S. and Korea, at 4% each.

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz