Amid a blossoming global market for solar PV, there is one glum note – Europe, the industry’s historic core.
Globally, some 37GW of PV capacity was installed during
2013, a 19% rise on 2012, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry
The brightest news of 2013 came out of Asia, where China and Japan
claimed the world’s number one and two slots, putting up 11.3GW and 6.9GW
respectively – compared to 5GW and 2GW the year prior.
The US also notched up a stellar performance, with the overall
market growing 41% to 4.75GW, according to recent figures from GTM Research.
Yet amid the good news of global growth and ever-falling price of PV
systems stands Europe, where the seriousness of the market slowdown “should not be
underestimated”, claims EPIA.
Europe’s share of the global PV market has fallen from a dominant 70%
in 2011 to just 28% last year – not necessarily a bad thing in the context of a
growing global market. But the European market is falling sharply in real terms,
Europe – including the EU and a handful of neighbouring countries like
Turkey – collectively added just 10GW of PV last year, down from 17.6GW in 2012
and 22.4GW in 2011.
The German market fell to 3.3GW from 7.6GW in
2012, even as the country saw many of its remaining PV companies – including Conergy and, most recently, Aleo – being snapped up by foreign players.
Yesterday Solon announced that its headquarters will be
shifted from Berlin to the United Arab Emirates and its distinctive Berlin offices closed, in part because emerging
markets in Africa and the Middle East appear more exciting than Europe.
In future, Solon will serve the whole of Europe out of a single distributor.
Italy, meanwhile, is likely to have added just 1.1GW-1.4GW of PV last year, down from its high-water mark of 9.4GW
While several European markets like the UK are growing
strongly, several former emerging hot spots cooled considerably in 2013, including
Denmark and Belgium.
“In a number of European countries, harsh support reduction,
retrospective measures and unplanned changes to regulatory frameworks that
badly affect investors’ confidence and PV investments viability have led to a
significant market decrease,” says Gaetan Masson, EPIA’s head of business