EPIA: Europe drags PV growth

A PV array on the UK's Isle of Wight.

A PV array on the UK's Isle of Wight.

The global PV market may expand more slowly than previously expected, dragged down by slumping demand in the once-dominant European market, a new report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) shows.

In a “pessimistic” low scenario that takes into account a decline in support schemes, the global PV market would reach a maximum of 39GW in 2018, compared to 38.4GW added in 2013, the report says.

In a “high” scenario with “adequate support mechanisms” in place, new PV installations could reach as much as 68.6GW in 2018, EPIA says.

A year ago, EPIA still had expected PV additions in 2017 – a year earlier than the current forecast – to jump to between 48GW in the low scenario and 84GW in the high scenario."

Nevertheless, there are plenty of bright spots in EPIA’s much-watched annual forecast.

“While European electricity demand is stagnating, this is not the case globally, and PV growth will continue to be driven by local and global energy demand,” EPIA says in its Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2014-2018 that was presented at the Intersolar conference in Munich on Monday.

“The fastest PV growth is expected to continue in China and South-East Asia in general, with Latin America, the MENA countries and India following."

The world’s cumulative installed PV capacity is seen rising to between 321.4GW (low scenario) and 430.3GW (high scenario) over the next five years, EPIA estimates. That compares to an accumulated global PV capacity of 138.9GW reached last year.

While the association sees an enormous potential in the world’s sunbelt countries in Asia, the MENA region and the Americas, the PV boom is expected to continue especially vigorously in China, Japan and the US, the trio that led 2013’s record global expansion, of 38GW.

“All three are expected to continue at the same level or even slightly more in 2014, with China probably above 10GW for several years,” the report says.

In Europe, the drastic decrease of feed-in tariff (FIT) programmes will push some markets down in 2014, with a limited number of emerging markets in Europe that could offset any major decline.

“Given these new conditions, the short-term prospects for the European markets are stable in the best case, and could even decline,” EPIA states.

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