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Solar Energy Solutions: Latest Industry Statistics and Trends

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Global Solar Panel Market Research

Over 100 countries witnessed the introduction of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2010, according to research from Pike Research. Commercial and residential grid-connected PV systems make up the majority of the global distributed solar PV market. Financial incentives such as premium feed-in tariffs in certain regions have lead to concentration in the distributed solar PV market in countries such as the US, Canada, Japan, Italy, France and Germany.

The EU is expected to continue dominating the distributed solar PV market (and more generally the clean energy technology sector) through 2015. India and China show strong growth potential due to their vast populations without electricity access. In the four-year period ending 2015, the distributed solar PV value chain is expected to represent close to $600 billion in revenue.

Market Segments

The world solar panel industry is forecast to record yearly growth in excess of 38% between 2010 and 2014, according to TechNavio. Growth will be fuelled by technological innovation. An obstacle to growth is linked to the reduction in EU solar subsidies. Leading companies currently operating in the solar panel industry include Sharp, First Solar, Yingli Green Energy, Suntech Power and Q-Cells.

The world organic photovoltaics (OPV) sector is currently worth more than $4.5 million and expected to reach $630 million in 2022, according to research from IDTechEx. Growth will be fuelled by world applications development, posters and PoP smart labels, and electronics in apparel. In terms of the overall PV market, OPVs represent a relatively small segment. The global installed capacity totaled 22 GW in 2011. Crystalline silicon devices make up 85% of the overall market, and thin film PV devices account for 15% of the market. The market is currently witnessing the introduction of PV technologies on the market of organic photovoltaics (OPV) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC). OPVs offer certain advantages like strong performance in the context of indoor lighting, limited capital expenditure, good form factor and may also cut down on energy production costs through printable plastics use. Disadvantages associated with OPVs are low efficiency levels and high prices.

Material and equipment innovations will help cut manufacturing costs in the PV sector in coming years. According to Yolé Development, around 35 GWp of new solar cell manufacturing equipment will be sold by 2017.

The smart grid technology sector is set to contribute to renewable energy production, with new transmission lines granting access to wind and solar resources. Smart grid technology tools will also be necessary for the distribution and utility aspects of renewable energy, reports Pike Research. Among such tools are synchrophasors and VAR compensators in the transmission grid, microgrid, virtual power plant, smart wind and solar technologies, and energy storage tools.

Regional Market Share

US solar product demand is expected to remain strong over coming years due to rising requests for renewable energy and state subsidies, reports IBIS World. China is manufacturing at lower costs, and should become an increasingly strong source of competition.

NetScribes predicts energy demand in China will increase at a yearly rate in excess of 20% through 2020. State solar subsidies will help propel the country’s solar energy sector, with non-fossil fuel usage set to record annual growth of more than 30% through 2015. Obstacles to market growth include falling module prices, oversupply and the expense of generating solar energy.

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