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According to the annual PV market report issued by the San Francisco-based solar energy consultancy Solarbuzz – a division of The NPD Group – Europe is leading the growth in the solar technologies market.
The top three countries in Europe were Germany, Italy and Czech Republic, which collectively accounted for 4.07 GW. All three countries experienced soaring demand with Italy becoming the second largest market in the world. By contrast, Spanish demand in 2009 collapsed to four percent of its prior year level, possibly due to the end of the tax benefits and incentives.
The third largest market in the world was the United States, which grew 36 percent to 485 MW. Following closely behind was a rejuvenated Japan, which took fourth spot, growing 109 percent.
World solar cell production reached a consolidated figure of 9.34 GW in 2009, up from 6.85 GW a year earlier, with thin film production accounting for 18 percent of that total. China and Taiwanese production continued to build share and now account for 49 percent of global cell production. Of total European demand, net cell imports accounted for 74 percent of the total.
The Top Seven polysilicon manufacturers had 114,500 tonnes per annum of capacity in 2009, up 92 percent on their 2008 level, while the Top Eight wafer manufacturers accounted for 32.9 percent of global wafer capacity in 2009.
The excess of solar cell production over market demand caused weighted crystalline silicon module price average for 2009 to crash 38 percent over the prior year level. The reduction in crystalline silicon prices also had the effect of eroding their percentage premium to thin film factory gate pricing.
Looking forward, the industry will return to high growth in 2010 and also over the next five years. Even in the slowest growth scenario, the global market will be 2.5 times its current size by 2014. Under the Production Led scenario, the fastest growing forecast, annual industry revenues approach 100 billion US Dollars by 2014.
“Industry performance in 2009 was remarkable in that it managed to more than fully replace the 2.3 GW demand gap caused by the change in policy in Spain,” remarked Craig Stevens, President of Solarbuzz. “Looking forward, the industry will see a return to high growth, but in a low margin environment. Our analysis demonstrates that a wide range of start-up markets will help offset a slowdown in German demand in the second half of 2010.”