Growth of photovoltaics

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Worldwide growth of photovoltaics
Global growth of cumulative PV capacity in gigawatts (GWp)[1][2][3][4][5] with regional shares (IEA estimates).[6]
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
2006
2008
2010
2012
2014
2016
'18
'19
'20
  Europe
  2019 Global estimate*
  China
  2020 Global forecast*
*(2019/20 tentative figures, no regional split-up)[7]
Recent and estimated capacity (GWp)
Year-end 2014 2015 2016[8] 2017[9] 2018[10] 2019E[7] 2020F[7]
Cumulative 178.4 229.3 306.5 403.3 512 633 ~770
Annual new 40.1 50.9 76.8 99 109[11] 121 121-154
Cumulative
growth
28% 29% 32% 32% 27% 24%
Installed PV in watts per capita

Worldwid PV capacity in watts per capita by country in 2013.

   none or unknown
   0.1–10 watts
   10–100 watts
   100–200 watts
   200–400 watts
   400–600 watts
History of cumulative PV capacity worldwide

Exponential growth-curve on a semi-log scale, show a straight line since 1992

Grid parity for solar PV around the world

Grid parity for solar PV systems around the world

  reached before 2014
  reached after 2014
  only for peak prices
  predicted U.S. states

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics has been close to exponential between 1992 and 2018. During this period of time, photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar PV, evolved from a niche market of small-scale applications to a mainstream electricity source.

When solar PV systems were first recognized as a promising renewable energy technology, subsidy programs, such as feed-in tariffs, were implemented by a number of governments in order to provide economic incentives for investments. For several years, growth was mainly driven by Japan and pioneering European countries. As a consequence, cost of solar declined significantly due to experience curve effects like improvements in technology and economies of scale. Several national programs were instrumental in increasing PV deployment, such as the Energiewende in Germany, the Million Solar Roofs project in the United States, and China's 2011 five-year-plan for energy production.[12] Since then, deployment of photovoltaics has gained momentum on a worldwide scale, increasingly competing with conventional energy sources. In the early 21st century a market for utility-scale plants emerged to complement rooftop and other distributed applications.[13] By 2015, some 30 countries had reached grid parity.[14]:9

Since the 1950s, when the first solar cells were commercially manufactured, there has been a succession of countries leading the world as the largest producer of electricity from solar photovoltaics. First it was the United States, then Japan,[15] followed by Germany, and currently China.

By the end of 2018, global cumulative installed PV capacity reached about 512 gigawatts (GW), of which about 180 GW (35%) were utility-scale plants.[16] Solar power supplied about 3% of global electricity demand in 2019.[17] In 2018, solar PV contributed between 7% and 8% to the annual domestic consumption in Italy, Greece, Germany, and Chile. The largest penetration of solar power in electricity production is found in Honduras (14%). Solar PV contribution to electricity in Australia is edging towards 9%, while in the United Kingdom and Spain it is close to 4%. China and India moved above the world average of 2.55%, while, in descending order, the United States, South Korea, France and South Africa are below the world's average.[9]:76

Projections for photovoltaic growth are difficult and burdened with many uncertainties.[citation needed] Official agencies, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) have consistently increased their estimates for decades, while still falling far short of projecting actual deployment in every forecast.[18][19][20] Bloomberg NEF projects global solar installations to grow in 2019, adding another 125–141 GW resulting in a total capacity of 637–653 GW by the end of the year.[21] By 2050, the IEA foresees solar PV to reach 4.7 terawatts (4,674 GW) in its high-renewable scenario, of which more than half will be deployed in China and India, making solar power the world's largest source of electricity.[22][23]

Added PV capacity by country in 2017 (by percent of world total, clustered by region)[24]

  China (55.8%)
  Japan (7.4%)
  South Korea (1.3%)
  India (9.6%)
  Australia (1.3%)
  United States (11.2%)
  Brazil (0.9%)
  Turkey (2.7%)
  Germany (1.9%)
  United Kingdom (0.9%)
  France (0.9%)
  Netherlands (0.9%)
  Rest of Europe (1.5%)
  Rest of the World (3.7%)

Solar PV nameplate capacity[edit]

Nameplate capacity denotes the peak power output of power stations in unit watt prefixed as convenient, to e.g. kilowatt (kW), megawatt (MW) and gigawatt (GW). Because power output for variable renewable sources is unpredictable, a source's average generation is generally significantly lower than the nameplate capacity. In order to have an estimate of the average power output, the capacity can be multiplied by a suitable capacity factor, which takes into account varying conditions - weather, nighttime, latitude, maintenance. Worldwide, the average solar PV capacity factor is 11%.[25] In addition, depending on context, the stated peak power may be prior to a subsequent conversion to alternating current, e.g. for a single photovoltaic panel, or include this conversion and its loss for a grid connected photovoltaic power station.[3]:15[26]:10

Wind power has different characteristics, e.g. a higher capacity factor and about four times the 2015 electricity production of solar power. Compared with wind power, photovoltaic power production correlates well with power consumption for air-conditioning in warm countries. As of 2017 a handful of utilities have started combining PV installations with battery banks, thus obtaining several hours of dispatchable generation to help mitigate problems associated with the duck curve after sunset.[27][28]

Current status[edit]

Worldwide[edit]

In 2017, photovoltaic capacity increased by 95 GW, with a 34% growth year-on-year of new installations. Cumulative installed capacity exceeded 401 GW by the end of the year, sufficient to supply 2.1 percent of the world's total electricity consumption.[29]

Regions[edit]

As of 2018, Asia was the fastest growing region, with almost 75% of global installations. China alone accounted for more than half of worldwide deployment in 2017. In terms of cumulative capacity, Asia was the most developed region with more than half of the global total of 401 GW in 2017.[24] Europe continued to decline as a percentage of the global PV market. In 2017, Europe represented 28% of global capacity, the Americas 19% and Middle East 2%.[24] However with respect to per capita installation the European Union has more than twice the capacity compared to China and 25% more than the US.

Solar PV covered 3.5% and 7% of European electricity demand and peak electricity demand, respectively in 2014.[4]:6

Countries and territories[edit]

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics is extremely dynamic and varies strongly by country. The top installers of 2019 were China, the United States, and India.[30] There are 37 countries around the world with a cumulative PV capacity of more than one gigawatt. The available solar PV capacity in Honduras is sufficient to supply 14.8% of the nation's electrical power while 8 countries can produce between 7% and 9% of their respective domestic electricity consumption.

Solar PV capacity by country and territory (MW) and share of total electricity consumption
2015[31] 2016[29] 2017[24] 2018[32][33] 2019[17][34] Capacity
per capita
2019 (W)
Share of total
consumption1
Country or territory Added Total Added Total Added Total Added Total Added Total
China China 15,150 43,530 34,540 78,070 53,000 131,000 45,000 175,018 30,100 204,700 147 3.9% (2019)[17]
European Union European Union 7,230 94,570 101,433 107,150 8,300 115,234 16,000 131,700 295 4.9% (2019)[17]
United States United States 7,300 25,620 14,730 40,300 10,600 51,000 10,600 62,200 13,300 75,900 231 2.8% (2019)[17]
Japan Japan 11,000 34,410 8,600 42,750 7,000 49,000 6,500 55,500 7,000 63,000 498 7.6% (2019)[17]
Germany Germany 1,450 39,700 1,520 41,220 1,800 42,000 3,000 45,930 3,900 49,200 593 8.6% (2019)[17]
India India 2,000 5,050 3,970 9,010 9,100 18,300 10,800 26,869 9,900 42,800 32 7.5% (2019)[17]
Italy Italy 300 18,920 373 19,279 409 19,700 20,120 600 20,800 345 7.5% (2019)[17]
Australia Australia 935 5,070 839 5,900 1,250 7,200 3,800 11,300 3,700 15,928 637 8.1% (2019)[17]
United Kingdom United Kingdom 3,510 8,780 1,970 11,630 900 12,700 13,108 233 13,300 200 4.0% (2019)[17]
South Korea South Korea 1,010 3,430 850 4,350 1,200 5,600 2,000 7,862 3,100 11,200 217 3.1% (2019)[17]
France France 879 6,580 559 7,130 875 8,000 9,483 900 9,900 148 2.4% (2019)[17]
Spain Spain 56 5,400 55 5,490 147 5,600 4,744 8,761 186 4.8% (2019)[17]
Netherlands Netherlands 450 1,570 525 2,100 853 2,900 1,300 4,150 6,725 396 3.6% (2018)[33]
Turkey Turkey 584 832 2,600 3,400 1,600 5,063 5,995 73 5.1% (2019)[17]
Vietnam Vietnam 6 6 9 106 4,800 5,695 60
Ukraine Ukraine 21 432 99 531 211 742 1,200 2,003 3,500 4,800 114 1.3% (2019)[35]
Brazil Brazil 900 1,100[36] 2,413 2,138 4,551[37] 22 1.7% (2019)[17]
Belgium Belgium 95 3,250 170 3,422 284 3,800 4,026 4,531 394 5.7% (2019)[17]
Mexico Mexico 150 320 150 539 2,700 3,200 4,426 35 2.6% (2018)[33]
Taiwan Taiwan 400 1,010 2,618 4,100 172
Canada Canada 600 2,500 200 2,715 212 2,900 3,113 3,310 88 0.6% (2018)[33]
Thailand Thailand 121 1,420 726 2,150 251 2,700 2,720 2,982 43 2.3% (2018)[33]
Greece Greece 10 2,613 2,652 2,763 258 8.1% (2019)[17]
Chile Chile 446 848 746 1,610 668 1,800 2,137 2,648 142 8.5% (2019)[17]
South Africa South Africa 200 1,120 536 1,450 13 1,800 2,559 2,561 44 1.4% (2018)[33]
Switzerland Switzerland 300 1,360 250 1,640 260 1,900 346 2,246 2,524 295 3.6% (2018)[33]
Czech Republic Czech Republic 16 2,083 48 2,131 63 2,193 2,078 2,070 194 3.5% (2018)[33]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates 35 42 255 494 1,783 185
Egypt Egypt 25 48 169 750 1,647 17
Austria Austria 150 937 154 1,077 153 1,250 1,431 1,578 178 2.0% (2018)[33]
Romania Romania 102 1,325 1,372 1,374 1,377 1,386 71 2.8% (2018)[33]
Pakistan Pakistan 600 1,000 1,568 1,329 6
Poland Poland 57 87 487 1,300 34
Hungary Hungary 60 138 665 1,277 131
Israel Israel 200 881 130 910 60 1,100 1,070 1,190 134 8.7% (2019)[17]
Bulgaria Bulgaria 1 1,029 1,028 1,036 0 1,036 1,065 152 3.8% (2018)[33]
Denmark Denmark 183 789 70 900 60 910 998 1,079 186 2.9% (2018)[33]
Russia Russia 55 62 15 77 159 236 310 546 1,064 7
Jordan Jordan 29 298 471 829 998 100
Philippines Philippines 122 155 756 900 886 922 9
Malaysia Malaysia 63 231 54 286 50 386 438 882 28 0.8% (2018)[33]
Portugal Portugal 58 513 57 577 670 828 81 2.2% (2018)[33]
Sweden Sweden 51 130 60 175 93 303 421 644 63 0.4% (2018)[33]
Honduras Honduras 391 391 414 451 485 511 53 14.8% (2019)[17]
Slovakia Slovakia 1 591 533 528 472 472 87 2.1% (2018)[33]
AlgeriaAlgeria 49 219 400 423 423 10
Iran Iran 9 34 43 141 184 102 286 81 367 4 0.4% (2019)[33]
BangladeshBangladesh 145 161 185 201 284 2
Singapore Singapore 46 97 118 160 255 45 0.8% (2018)[38]
Morocco Morocco 20 22 25 205 206 6
Malta Malta 19 73 20 93 19 112 127 154 312 6.5% (2017)[39]
Luxembourg Luxembourg 15 125 122 127 134 150 244
NamibiaNamibia 21 36 70 88 135 55
Finland Finland[40] 5 20 17 37 23 80 53.1 134 215 39 0.2% (2018)[33]
SenegalSenegal 11 43 113 134 134 8
Cyprus Cyprus 5 70 14 84 21 105 113 129 147 3.3% (2016)[41]
Lithuania Lithuania[32] 0 69 1 70 4 74 10 84 103 37
Norway Norway 2 15 11 27 18 45 23 68 90 17 0.0% (2018)[33]
Croatia Croatia[32] 15 48 8 56 4 60 1 61 69 17
World total 59,000[42] 256,000[42] 76,800 306,500 95,000 401,500 510,000[33] 627,000[17] 83 3.0% (2019)[17]
1 Share of total electricity consumption for latest available year


25
50
75
100
125
150
2007
2009
2011
2013
2015
2017
2019
2021
Historical and projected global demand for solar PV (new installations, GW).
Source: GTM Research, Q2 2017[43]
PV capacity growth in China
Growth of PV in Europe 1992-2014


History of leading countries[edit]

The United States was the leader of installed photovoltaics for many years, and its total capacity was 77 megawatts in 1996, more than any other country in the world at the time. From the late 1990s, Japan was the world's leader of solar electricity production until 2005, when Germany took the lead and by 2016 had a capacity of over 40 gigawatts. In 2015, China surpassed Germany to become the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power,[44] and in 2017 became the first country to surpass 100 GW of installed capacity.

United States (1954–1996)[edit]

The United States, where modern solar PV was invented, led installed capacity for many years. Based on preceding work by Swedish and German engineers, the American engineer Russell Ohl at Bell Labs patented the first modern solar cell in 1946.[45][46][47] It was also there at Bell Labs where the first practical c-silicon cell was developed in 1954.[48][49] Hoffman Electronics, the leading manufacturer of silicon solar cells in the 1950s and 1960s, improved on the cell's efficiency, produced solar radios, and equipped Vanguard I, the first solar powered satellite launched into orbit in 1958.

In 1977 US-President Jimmy Carter installed solar hot water panels on the White House promoting solar energy[50] and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, originally named Solar Energy Research Institute was established at Golden, Colorado. In the 1980s and early 1990s, most photovoltaic modules were used in stand-alone power systems or powered consumer products such as watches, calculators and toys, but from around 1995, industry efforts have focused increasingly on developing grid-connected rooftop PV systems and power stations. By 1996, solar PV capacity in the US amounted to 77 megawatts–more than any other country in the world at the time. Then, Japan moved ahead.

Japan (1997–2004)[edit]

Japan took the lead as the world's largest producer of PV electricity, after the city of Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995. Kobe experienced severe power outages in the aftermath of the earthquake, and PV systems were then considered as a temporary supplier of power during such events, as the disruption of the electric grid paralyzed the entire infrastructure, including gas stations that depended on electricity to pump gasoline. Moreover, in December of that same year, an accident occurred at the multibillion-dollar experimental Monju Nuclear Power Plant. A sodium leak caused a major fire and forced a shutdown (classified as INES 1). There was massive public outrage when it was revealed that the semigovernmental agency in charge of Monju had tried to cover up the extent of the accident and resulting damage.[51][52] Japan remained world leader in photovoltaics until 2004, when its capacity amounted to 1,132 megawatts. Then, focus on PV deployment shifted to Europe.

Germany (2005–2014)[edit]

In 2005, Germany took the lead from Japan. With the introduction of the Renewable Energy Act in 2000, feed-in tariffs were adopted as a policy mechanism. This policy established that renewables have priority on the grid, and that a fixed price must be paid for the produced electricity over a 20-year period, providing a guaranteed return on investment irrespective of actual market prices. As a consequence, a high level of investment security lead to a soaring number of new photovoltaic installations that peaked in 2011, while investment costs in renewable technologies were brought down considerably. In 2016 Germany's installed PV capacity was over the 40 GW mark.

China (2015–present)[edit]

China surpassed Germany's capacity by the end of 2015, becoming the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power.[53] China's rapid PV growth continued in 2016 – with 34.2 GW of solar photovoltaics installed.[54] The quickly lowering feed in tariff rates[55] at the end of 2015 motivated many developers to secure tariff rates before mid-year 2016 – as they were anticipating further cuts (correctly so[56]). During the course of the year, China announced its goal of installing 100 GW during the next Chinese Five Year Economic Plan (2016–2020). China expected to spend ¥1 trillion ($145B) on solar construction[57] during that period. Much of China's PV capacity was built in the relatively less populated west of the country whereas the main centres of power consumption were in the east (such as Shanghai and Beijing).[58] Due to lack of adequate power transmission lines to carry the power from the solar power plants, China had to curtail its PV generated power.[58][59][60]

History of market development[edit]

Prices and costs (1977–present)[edit]

Swanson's law – the PV learning curve
Price decline of c-Si solar cells
Type of cell or module Price per Watt
Multi-Si Cell (≥18.6%) $0.071
Mono-Si Cell (≥20.0%) $0.090
G1 Mono-Si Cell (>21.7%) $0.099
M6 Mono-Si Cell (>21.7%) $0.100
275W - 280W (60P) Module $0.176
325W - 330W (72P) Module $0.188
305W - 310W Module $0.240
315W - 320W Module $0.190
>325W - >385W Module $0.200
Source: EnergyTrend, price quotes, average prices, 13 July 2020[61] 

The average price per watt dropped drastically for solar cells in the decades leading up to 2017. While in 1977 prices for crystalline silicon cells were about $77 per watt, average spot prices in August 2018 were as low as $0.13 per watt or nearly 600 times less than forty years ago. Prices for thin-film solar cells and for c-Si solar panels were around $.60 per watt.[62] Module and cell prices declined even further after 2014 (see price quotes in table).

This price trend was seen as evidence supporting Swanson's law (an observation similar to the famous Moore's Law) that states that the per-watt cost of solar cells and panels fall by 20 percent for every doubling of cumulative photovoltaic production.[63] A 2015 study showed price/kWh dropping by 10% per year since 1980, and predicted that solar could contribute 20% of total electricity consumption by 2030.[64]

In its 2014 edition of the Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published prices for residential, commercial and utility-scale PV systems for eight major markets as of 2013 (see table below).[22] However, DOE's SunShot Initiative report states lower prices than the IEA report, although both reports were published at the same time and referred to the same period. After 2014 prices fell further. For 2014, the SunShot Initiative modeled U.S. system prices to be in the range of $1.80 to $3.29 per watt.[65] Other sources identified similar price ranges of $1.70 to $3.50 for the different market segments in the U.S.[66] In the highly penetrated German market, prices for residential and small commercial rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to $1.36 per watt (€1.24/W) by the end of 2014.[67] In 2015, Deutsche Bank estimated costs for small residential rooftop systems in the U.S. around $2.90 per watt. Costs for utility-scale systems in China and India were estimated as low as $1.00 per watt.[14]:9

Typical PV system prices in 2013 in selected countries (USD)
USD/W Australia China France Germany Italy Japan United Kingdom United States
 Residential 1.8 1.5 4.1 2.4 2.8 4.2 2.8 4.91
 Commercial 1.7 1.4 2.7 1.8 1.9 3.6 2.4 4.51
 Utility-scale 2.0 1.4 2.2 1.4 1.5 2.9 1.9 3.31
Source: IEA – Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy report, September 2014'[22]:15
1U.S figures are lower in DOE's Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends[65]

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, a "sustained, dramatic decline" in utility-scale solar PV electricity cost driven by lower solar PV module and system costs continued in 2018, with global weighted average levelized cost of energy of solar PV falling to US$0.085 per kilowatt-hour, or 13% lower than projects commissioned the previous year, resulting in a decline from 2010 to 2018 of 77%.[68]

Technologies (1990–present)[edit]

Market-share of PV technologies since 1990

There were significant advances in conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology in the years leading up to 2017. The falling cost of the polysilicon since 2009, that followed after a period of severe shortage (see below) of silicon feedstock, pressure increased on manufacturers of commercial thin-film PV technologies, including amorphous thin-film silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), led to the bankruptcy of several thin-film companies that had once been highly touted.[69] The sector faced price competition from Chinese crystalline silicon cell and module manufacturers, and some companies together with their patents were sold below cost.[70]

Global PV market by technology in 2013.[71]:18,19

  CdTe (5.1%)
  a-Si (2.0%)
  CIGS (2.0%)
  mono-Si (36.0%)
  multi-Si (54.9%)

In 2013 thin-film technologies accounted for about 9 percent of worldwide deployment, while 91 percent was held by crystalline silicon (mono-Si and multi-Si). With 5 percent of the overall market, CdTe held more than half of the thin-film market, leaving 2 percent to each CIGS and amorphous silicon.[72]:24–25

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) is the name of the semiconductor material on which the technology is based. One of the largest producers of CIGS photovoltaics in 2015 was the Japanese company Solar Frontier with a manufacturing capacity in the gigawatt-scale. Their CIS line technology included modules with conversion efficiencies of over 15%.[73] The company profited from the booming Japanese market and attempted to expand its international business. However, several prominent manufacturers could not keep up with the advances in conventional crystalline silicon technology. The company Solyndra ceased all business activity and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011, and Nanosolar, also a CIGS manufacturer, closed its doors in 2013. Although both companies produced CIGS solar cells, it has been pointed out, that the failure was not due to the technology but rather because of the companies themselves, using a flawed architecture, such as, for example, Solyndra's cylindrical substrates.[74]
The U.S.-company First Solar, a leading manufacturer of CdTe, built several of the world's largest solar power stations, such as the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and Topaz Solar Farm, both in the Californian desert with 550 MW capacity each, as well as the 102 MWAC Nyngan Solar Plant in Australia (the largest PV power station in the Southern Hemisphere at the time) commissioned in mid-2015.[75] The company was reported in 2013 to be successfully producing CdTe-panels with a steadily increasing efficiency and declining cost per watt.[76]:18–19 CdTe was the lowest energy payback time of all mass-produced PV technologies, and could be as short as eight months in favorable locations.[72]:31 The company Abound Solar, also a manufacturer of cadmium telluride modules, went bankrupt in 2012.[77]
In 2012, ECD solar, once one of the world's leading manufacturer of amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology, filed for bankruptcy in Michigan, United States. Swiss OC Oerlikon divested its solar division that produced a-Si/μc-Si tandem cells to Tokyo Electron Limited.[78][79] Other companies that left the amorphous silicon thin-film market include DuPont, BP, Flexcell, Inventux, Pramac, Schuco, Sencera, EPV Solar,[80] NovaSolar (formerly OptiSolar)[81] and Suntech Power that stopped manufacturing a-Si modules in 2010 to focus on crystalline silicon solar panels. In 2013, Suntech filed for bankruptcy in China.[82][83]

Silicon shortage (2005–2008)[edit]

Polysilicon prices since 2004. As of July 2020, the ASP for polysilicon stands at $6.956/kg[61]

In the early 2000s, prices for polysilicon, the raw material for conventional solar cells, were as low as $30 per kilogram and silicon manufacturers had no incentive to expand production.

However, there was a severe silicon shortage in 2005, when governmental programmes caused a 75% increase in the deployment of solar PV in Europe. In addition, the demand for silicon from semiconductor manufacturers was growing. Since the amount of silicon needed for semiconductors makes up a much smaller portion of production costs, semiconductor manufacturers were able to outbid solar companies for the available silicon in the market.[84]

Initially, the incumbent polysilicon producers were slow to respond to rising demand for solar applications, because of their painful experience with over-investment in the past. Silicon prices sharply rose to about $80 per kilogram, and reached as much as $400/kg for long-term contracts and spot prices. In 2007, the constraints on silicon became so severe that the solar industry was forced to idle about a quarter of its cell and module manufacturing capacity—an estimated 777 MW of the then available production capacity. The shortage also provided silicon specialists with both the cash and an incentive to develop new technologies and several new producers entered the market. Early responses from the solar industry focused on improvements in the recycling of silicon. When this potential was exhausted, companies have been taking a harder look at alternatives to the conventional Siemens process.[85]

As it takes about three years to build a new polysilicon plant, the shortage continued until 2008. Prices for conventional solar cells remained constant or even rose slightly during the period of silicon shortage from 2005 to 2008. This is notably seen as a "shoulder" that sticks out in the Swanson's PV-learning curve and it was feared that a prolonged shortage could delay solar power becoming competitive with conventional energy prices without subsidies.

In the meantime the solar industry lowered the number of grams-per-watt by reducing wafer thickness and kerf loss, increasing yields in each manufacturing step, reducing module loss, and raising panel efficiency. Finally, the ramp up of polysilicon production alleviated worldwide markets from the scarcity of silicon in 2009 and subsequently lead to an overcapacity with sharply declining prices in the photovoltaic industry for the following years.

Solar overcapacity (2009–2013)[edit]

Solar module production
utilization of production capacity in %
Utilization rate of solar PV module production capacity in % since 1993[86]:47

As the polysilicon industry had started to build additional large production capacities during the shortage period, prices dropped as low as $15 per kilogram forcing some producers to suspend production or exit the sector. Prices for silicon stabilized around $20 per kilogram and the booming solar PV market helped to reduce the enormous global overcapacity from 2009 onwards. However, overcapacity in the PV industry continued to persist. In 2013, global record deployment of 38 GW (updated EPIA figure[3]) was still much lower than China's annual production capacity of approximately 60 GW. Continued overcapacity was further reduced by significantly lowering solar module prices and, as a consequence, many manufacturers could no longer cover costs or remain competitive. As worldwide growth of PV deployment continued, the gap between overcapacity and global demand was expected in 2014 to close in the next few years.[87]

IEA-PVPS published in 2014 historical data for the worldwide utilization of solar PV module production capacity that showed a slow return to normalization in manufacture in the years leading up to 2014. The utilization rate is the ratio of production capacities versus actual production output for a given year. A low of 49% was reached in 2007 and reflected the peak of the silicon shortage that idled a significant share of the module production capacity. As of 2013, the utilization rate had recovered somewhat and increased to 63%.[86]:47

Anti-dumping duties (2012–present)[edit]

After anti-dumping petition were filed and investigations carried out,[88] the United States imposed tariffs of 31 percent to 250 percent on solar products imported from China in 2012.[89] A year later, the EU also imposed definitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on imports of solar panels from China at an average of 47.7 percent for a two-year time span.[90]

Shortly thereafter, China, in turn, levied duties on U.S. polysilicon imports, the feedstock for the production of solar cells.[91] In January 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce set its anti-dumping tariff on U.S. polysilicon producers, such as Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation to 57%, while other major polysilicon producing companies, such as German Wacker Chemie and Korean OCI were much less affected. All this has caused much controversy between proponents and opponents and was subject of debate.

History of deployment[edit]

2016-2020 development of the Bhadla Solar Park (India), documented on Sentinel-2 satellite imagery

Deployment figures on a global, regional and nationwide scale are well documented since the early 1990s. While worldwide photovoltaic capacity grew continuously, deployment figures by country were much more dynamic, as they depended strongly on national policies. A number of organizations release comprehensive reports on PV deployment on a yearly basis. They include annual and cumulative deployed PV capacity, typically given in watt-peak, a break-down by markets, as well as in-depth analysis and forecasts about future trends.

Timeline of the largest PV power stations in the world
Year(a) Name of PV power station Country Capacity
MW
1982 Lugo  United States 1
1985 Carrisa Plain  United States 5.6
2005 Bavaria Solarpark (Mühlhausen)  Germany 6.3
2006 Erlasee Solar Park  Germany 11.4
2008 Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park  Spain 60
2010 Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant  Canada 97
2011 Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park  China 200
2012 Agua Caliente Solar Project  United States 290
2014 Topaz Solar Farm(b)  United States 550
2015 Longyangxia Dam Solar Park  China 850
2016 Tengger Desert Solar Park  China 1547
2019 Pavagada Solar Park  India 2050
2020 Bhadla Solar Park  India 2245
Also see list of photovoltaic power stations and list of noteworthy solar parks
(a) year of final commissioning (b) capacity given in  MWAC otherwise in MWDC

Worldwide annual deployment[edit]

2018: 103,000 MW (20.4%)2017: 95,000 MW (18.8%)2016: 76,600 MW (15.2%)2015: 50,909 MW (10.1%)2014: 40,134 MW (8.0%)2013: 38,352 MW (7.6%)2012: 30,011 MW (5.9%)2011: 30,133 MW (6.0%)2010: 17,151 MW (3.4%)2009: 7,340 MW (1.5%)2008: 6,661 MW (1.3%)before: 9,183 MW (1.8%)Circle frame.svg
  •   2018: 103,000 MW (20.4%)
  •   2017: 95,000 MW (18.8%)
  •   2016: 76,600 MW (15.2%)
  •   2015: 50,909 MW (10.1%)
  •   2014: 40,134 MW (8.0%)
  •   2013: 38,352 MW (7.6%)
  •   2012: 30,011 MW (5.9%)
  •   2011: 30,133 MW (6.0%)
  •   2010: 17,151 MW (3.4%)
  •   2009: 7,340 MW (1.5%)
  •   2008: 6,661 MW (1.3%)
  •   before: 9,183 MW (1.8%)
Annual PV deployment as a %-share of global total capacity (estimate for 2018).[2][92]

Due to the exponential nature of PV deployment, most of the overall capacity has been installed in the years leading up to 2017 (see pie-chart). Since the 1990s, each year has been a record-breaking year in terms of newly installed PV capacity, except for 2012. Contrary to some earlier predictions, early 2017 forecasts were that 85 gigawatts would be installed in 2017.[93] Near end-of-year figures however raised estimates to 95 GW for 2017-installations.[92]

25,000
50,000
75,000
100,000
125,000
150,000
2002
2006
2010
2014
2018
Global annual installed capacity since 2002, in megawatts (hover with mouse over bar).

  annual deployment since 2002     2016: 76.8 GW    2018: 103 GW (estimate)

Worldwide cumulative[edit]

Worldwide cumulative PV capacity on a semi log chart since 1992

Worldwide growth of solar PV capacity was an exponential curve between 1992 and 2017. Tables below show global cumulative nominal capacity by the end of each year in megawatts, and the year-to-year increase in percent. In 2014, global capacity was expected to grow by 33 percent from 139 to 185 GW. This corresponded to an exponential growth rate of 29 percent or about 2.4 years for current worldwide PV capacity to double. Exponential growth rate: P(t) = P0ert, where P0 is 139 GW, growth-rate r 0.29 (results in doubling time t of 2.4 years).

The following table contains data from multiple different sources. For 1992–1995: compiled figures of 16 main markets (see section All time PV installations by country), for 1996–1999: BP-Statistical Review of world energy (Historical Data Workbook)[94] for 2000–2013: EPIA Global Outlook on Photovoltaics Report[3]:17

1990s
 Year  CapacityA
MWp
Δ%B Refs
1991 n.a.   C
1992 105 n.a. C
1993 130 24% C
1994 158 22% C
1995 192 22% C
1996 309 61% [94]
1997 422 37% [94]
1998 566 34% [94]
1999 807 43% [94]
2000 1,250 55% [94]
2000s
 Year  CapacityA
MWp
Δ%B Refs
2001 1,615 27% [3]
2002 2,069 28% [3]
2003 2,635 27% [3]
2004 3,723 41% [3]
2005 5,112 37% [3]
2006 6,660 30% [3]
2007 9,183 38% [3]
2008 15,844 73% [3]
2009 23,185 46% [3]
2010 40,336 74% [3]
2010s
 Year  CapacityA
MWp
Δ%B Refs
2011 70,469 75% [3]
2012 100,504 43% [3]
2013 138,856 38% [3]
2014 178,391 28% [2]
2015 221,988 24% [95]
2016 295,816 33% [95]
2017 388,550 31% [95]
2018 488,741 26% [95]
2019 586,421 20% [95]
2020
Legend:
^A Worldwide, cumulative nameplate capacity in megawatt-peak MWp, (re-)calculated in DC power output.
^B annual increase of cumulative worldwide PV nameplate capacity in percent.
^C figures of 16 main markets, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, European countries, and the United States.

Deployment by country[edit]

See section Forecast for projected photovoltaic deployment in 2017
Grid parity for solar PV systems around the world
  Reached grid-parity before 2014
  Reached grid-parity after 2014
  Reached grid-parity only for peak prices
  U.S. states poised to reach grid-parity
Source: Deutsche Bank, as of February 2015
Number of countries with PV capacities in the gigawatt-scale
10
20
30
40
2005
2010
2015
2019
Growing number of solar gigawatt-markets

All time PV installations by country[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]