Growth of photovoltaics

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Worldwide growth of photovoltaics
Cumulative capacity in megawatts [MWp] grouped by region[1][2][3][4][5]
Split-up for 2016 estimated from IEA.[6]
100,000
200,000
300,000
400,000
500,000
600,000
2006
2008
2010
2012
2014
2016
2018F
  Europe
  China
  Global total: no split-up by region available yet. Forecast for 2018
Recent and projected capacity (GWp)
Year-end 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016[7] 2017[8] 2018F
Cumulative 100.5 138.9 178.4 229.3 306.5 401.5 ~508
Annual new 30.0 38.4 40.1 50.9 76.8 95 106[9]
Cume growth 43% 38% 28% 29% 32% 31% 27%
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
Exponential growth on semi-log chart

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 an exponential curve between 1992–2017. 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, 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.

Experience curves describe that the price of a thing decreases with the sum-total ever produced. PV growth increased even more rapidly when production of solar cells and modules started to ramp up in the USA with their Million Solar Roofs project, and when renewables were added to China's 2011 five-year-plan for energy production.[10] Since then, deployment of photovoltaics has gained momentum on a worldwide scale, particularly in Asia but also in North America and other regions, where solar PV by 2015–17 was increasingly competing with conventional energy sources as grid parity has already been reached in about 30 countries.[11]:9

Projections for photovoltaic growth are difficult and burdened with many uncertainties. Official agencies, such as the International Energy Agency consistently increased their estimates over the years, but still fell short of actual deployment.[12][13][14][15]

Historically, the United States was the leader of installed photovoltaics for many years, and its total capacity amounted to 77 megawatts in 1996—more than any other country in the world at the time. Then, Japan was the world's leader of produced solar electricity until 2005, when Germany took the lead and by 2016 had a capacity of over 40 gigawatts. However, in 2015, China became world's largest producer of photovoltaic power,[16][17][18] and in 2017 became the first country to surpass the 100 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity.[19][20] China is expected to be the leader in installed PV capacity, and along with India and US, it is forecasted to be the largest market for solar PV installations in the coming decade.

By the end of 2016, cumulative photovoltaic capacity reached about 302 gigawatts (GW), estimated to be sufficient to supply between 1.3% and 1.8% of global electricity demand.[21][22] Solar contributed 8%, 7.4% and 7.1% to the respective annual domestic consumption in Italy, Greece and Germany.[5] Installed worldwide capacity was projected to more than double or even triple to more than 500 GW between 2016 and 2020.[2] By 2050, solar power was anticipated to become the world's largest source of electricity, with solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power contributing 16% and 11%, respectively. This would require PV capacity to grow to 4,600 GW, of which more than half was forecast to be deployed in China and India.[23]

Current status[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). 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[24]:10

At the utility level, wind power competes for new installations and has different characteristics, e.g. a higher capacity factor and about four times the 2015 electricity production compared to solar power. Compared with wind power, photovoltaic power production correlates well with power consumption for air-conditioning in warm countries, where it can replace peaker power plants. As of 2017 a handful of utilities have started combining PV installations with battery banks thus obtaining several hours of dispatchable generation, suitable to supply the duck curve after sunset.[25][26]

For a complete history of deployment over the last two decades, also see section History of deployment.

Worldwide[edit]

In 2016, photovoltaic capacity increased by at least 75 GW, with a 50% growth year-on-year of new installations. Cumulative installed capacity reached at least 302 GW by the end of the year, sufficient to supply 1.8 percent of the world's total electricity consumption.[22]

Cumulative PV capacity by region as of the end of 2014.[4]

  Europe (49.4%)
  APAC (19.8%)
  China (15.9%)
  Americas (11.6%)
  MEA (1.0%)
  Rest of the World (2.3%)

Regions[edit]

In 2014, Asia was the fastest growing region, with more than 60% of global installations. China and Japan alone accounted for 20 GW or half of worldwide deployment. Europe continued to decline and installed 7 GW or 18% of the global PV market, three times less than in the record-year of 2011, when 22 GW had been installed. For the first time, North and South America combined accounted for at least as much as Europe, about 7.1 GW or about 18% of global total. This was due to the strong growth in the United States, supported by Canada, Chile and Mexico.[4]

In terms of cumulative capacity, Europe was still the most developed region with 88 GW or half of the global total of 178 GW. Solar PV covered 3.5% and 7% of European electricity demand and peak electricity demand, respectively in 2014.[4]:6 The Asia-Pacific region (APAC) which includes countries such as Japan, India and Australia, followed second and accounted for about 20% percent of worldwide capacity. China was third with 16%, followed by the Americas with about 12%. Cumulative capacity in the MEA (Middle East and Africa) region and ROW (rest of the world) accounted for only about 3.3% of the global total. A great untapped potential remained for many of these countries, especially in the Sunbelt.

Countries[edit]

Added PV capacity by country in 2014 (clustered by region)[4]

  China (28.3%)
  Japan (25.1%)
  South Korea (2.3%)
  Thailand (1.2%)
  India (1.6%)
  Australia (2.4%)
  United States (16.0%)
  Canada (1.3%)
  Chile (0.9%)
  Germany (4.9%)
  Italy (1.0%)
  United Kingdom (5.9%)
  Rest of Europe (5.6%)
  South Africa (2.1%)
  Rest of the World (1.4%)

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics is extremely dynamic and varies strongly by country. The top installers of 2016 were China, the United States, and India.[27] There are more than 24 countries around the world with a cumulative PV capacity of more than one gigawatt. Austria, Chile, and South Africa, all crossed the one gigawatt-mark in 2016. The available solar PV capacity in Honduras is now sufficient to supply 12.5% of the nation's electrical power while Italy, Germany and Greece can produce between 7% and 8% of their respective domestic electricity consumption.[22][2][4]

Leading PV deployments in 2016 were China (34.5 GW), United States (14.7 GW), Japan (8.6 GW), India (4 GW), the United Kingdom (2 GW).[28] [29]

Solar PV capacity by country (MW) and share of total electricity consumption
2015[30] 2016[22] 2017[29] Share of total
consumption1
Country Total Added Total Added Total Added
China China 43,530 15,150 78,070 34,540 131,000 53,000 1.07%
European Union European Union 94,570 7,230
United States United States 25,620 7,300 40,300 14,730 51,000 10,600 1.4%
Japan Japan 34,410 11,000 42,750 8,600 49,000 7,600 4.9%
Germany Germany 39,700 1,450 41,220 1,520 42,000 1,800 6.7%
Italy Italy 18,920 300 19,279 373 19,700 409 7.5% (2014)
India India 5,050 2,000 9,010 3,970 18,300 9,100 2.16%
United Kingdom United Kingdom 8,780 3,510 11,630 1,970 12,700 900 3.4%
France France 6,580 879 7,130 559 8,000 875 1.6%
Australia Australia 5,070 935 5,900 839 7,200 1,250 2.4% (2015)
Spain Spain 5,400 56 5,490 55 5,600 147 3.2% (2013)
South Korea South Korea 3,430 1,010 4,350 850 5,600 1,200
Belgium Belgium 3,250 95 3,422 170 3,800 284
Canada Canada 2,500 600 2,715 200 2,900 212
Netherlands Netherlands 1,570 450 2,100 525 2,900 853
Thailand Thailand 1,420 121 2,150 726 2,700 251
Greece Greece 2,613 10
Czech Republic Czech Republic 2,083 16
Switzerland Switzerland 1,360 300 1,640 250 1,900 260 2.3% (2016)[31]
Chile Chile 848 446 1,610 746 1,800 668
South Africa South Africa 1,120 200 1,450 536 1,800 13
Romania Romania 1,325 102
Austria Austria 937 150 1,077 154 1,250 153
Israel Israel 881 200 910 130 1,100 60
Bulgaria Bulgaria 1,021 1
Taiwan Taiwan 1,010 400
Pakistan Pakistan 1,000 600
Denmark Denmark 789 183 900 70 2.8% (2016)[32]
Philippines Philippines 155 122 900 756
Turkey Turkey 832 584
Slovakia Slovakia 591 1
Portugal Portugal 513 58
Mexico Mexico 320 150
Malaysia Malaysia 231 63 286 54
Sweden Sweden 130 51 175 60
Hungary Hungary 138 60
Luxembourg Luxembourg 125 15
Poland Poland 87 57
Malta Malta 73 19
Lithuania Lithuania 73 5
Cyprus Cyprus 70 5
Croatia Croatia 45 11
Norway Norway 15 2 26.7 11
Finland Finland 20 5 15 10
Estonia Estonia 4 4
Republic of Ireland Ireland 2 1
Latvia Latvia 2 0
Total 256,000[33] 59,000[33] 306,500 76,800 401,500 95,000 1.8%
1 Share of total electricity consumption for latest available year

Forecast[edit]

Forecast for 2017[edit]

On December 19, 2016, IHS Markit forecast that global new installations would reach 79 GW, representing 3% growth.[34] In July 2017 the SolarPower Europe Association predicted 80.5 GW installed capacity (medium scenario) with a spread ranging from 58.5 GW (low scenario) to 103.6 GW (high scenario).[35] On August 21, 2017, Greentech Media predicted that the global solar market will grow about 4% in 2017, reaching 81.1 GW, after 2016 saw a total of 77.8 GW.[36] On September 14, 2017, EnergyTrend predicted the global solar market in 2017 will reach 100.4 GW, an increase about 26% over previous year.[37]

Global short-term forecast[edit]

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[36]

In August 2017, GTM Research predicted that by 2022 cumulative installed global photovoltaic capacity will likely reach 871 gigawatts.[36]

Global long-term forecast (2050)[edit]

In 2014, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its latest edition of the Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy report,[23] calling for clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers.[38] The IEA also acknowledged to have previously underestimated PV deployment and reassessed its short-term and long-term goals.

IEA report Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy (September 2014)[23]:1

Much has happened since our 2010 IEA technology roadmap for PV energy. PV has been deployed faster than anticipated and by 2020 will probably reach twice the level previously expected. Rapid deployment and falling costs have each been driving the other. This progress, together with other important changes in the energy landscape, notably concerning the status and progress of nuclear power and CCS, have led the IEA to reassess the role of solar PV in mitigating climate change. This updated roadmap envisions PV's share of global electricity rising up to 16% by 2050, compared with 11% in the 2010 roadmap.

IEA's long-term scenario for 2050 described how worldwide solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar thermal (CSP) capacity would reach 4,600 GW and 1,000 GW, respectively. In order to achieve IEA's projection, PV deployment of 124 GW and investments of $225 billion were required annually. This was about three and two times levels at that time, respectively. By 2050, levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generated by solar PV would cost between US 4¢ and 16¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or by segment and on average, 5.6¢ per kWh for utility-scale power plants (range of 4¢ to 9.7¢), and 7.8¢ per kWh for solar rooftop systems (range of 4.9¢ to 15.9¢)[23]:5,24 These estimates were based on a weighted average cost of capital (WACC) of 8%. The report noted that when the WACC exceeds 9%, over half the LCOE of PV is made of financial expenditures, and that more optimistic assumptions of a lower WACC would therefore significantly reduce the LCOE of solar PV in the future.[23]:24–25 The IEA also emphasized that these new figures were not projections but rather scenarios they believe would occur if underlying economic, regulatory and political conditions played out.

In 2015, Fraunhofer ISE did a study commissioned by German renewable think tank Agora Energiewende and concluded that most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems.[39] Fraunhofer's study (see summary of its conclusions below) differed significantly from IEA's roadmap report on solar PV technology despite being published only a few months apart. The report foresaw worldwide installed PV capacity would reach as much as 30,700 GW by 2050. By then, Fraunhofer expected LCOE for utility-scale solar farms to reach €0.02 to €0.04 per kilowatt-hour, or about half of what the International Energy Agency had been projecting (4¢ to 9.7¢). Turnkey system costs would decrease by more than 50% to €436/kWp from currently €995/kWp.[40]:67 This is also noteworthy, as IEA's roadmap published significantly higher estimates of $1,400 to $3,300 per kWp for eight major markets around the world (see table Typical PV system prices in 2013 below).[23]:15 However, the study agreed with IEA's roadmap report by emphasizing the importance of the cost of capital (WACC), which strongly depends on regulatory regimes and may even outweigh local advantages of higher solar insolation.[40]:1, 53 In the study, a WACC of 5%, 7.5% and 10% was used to calculate the projected levelized cost of electricity for utility-scale solar PV in 18 different markets worldwide.[40]:65

Fraunhofer ISE: Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics. Long-term Scenarios for Market Development, System Prices and LCOE of Utility-Scale PV Systems. Study on behalf of Agora Energiewende (February 2015)[40]:1

  1. Solar photovoltaics is already today a low-cost renewable energy technology. Cost of power from large scale photovoltaic installations in Germany fell from over 40 ct/kWh in 2005 to 9 cts/kWh in 2014. Even lower prices have been reported in sunnier regions of the world, since a major share of cost components is traded on global markets.
  2. Solar power will soon be the cheapest form of electricity in many regions of the world. Even in conservative scenarios and assuming no major technological breakthroughs, an end to cost reduction is not in sight. Depending on annual sunshine, power cost of 4–6 cts/kWh are expected by 2025, reaching 2–4 ct/kWh by 2050 (conservative estimate).
  3. Financial and regulatory environments will be key to reducing cost in the future. Cost of hardware sourced from global markets will decrease irrespective of local conditions. However, inadequate regulatory regimes may increase cost of power by up to 50 percent through higher cost of finance. This may even overcompensate the effect of better local solar resources.
  4. Most scenarios fundamentally underestimate the role of solar power in future energy systems. Based on outdated cost estimates, most scenarios modeling future domestic, regional or global power systems foresee only a small contribution of solar power. The results of our analysis indicate that a fundamental review of cost-optimal power system pathways is necessary.

Regional forecasts[edit]

PV capacity growth in China
As of October 2015, China planned to install 150 GW of solar power by 2020,[41] an increase of 50 GW compared to the 2020-target announced in October 2014, when China planned to install 100 GW of solar power—along with 200 GW of wind, 350 GW of hydro and 58 GW of nuclear power.[42]
Overall, China has consistently increased its annual and short term targets. However estimates, targets and actual deployment have differed substantially in the past: in 2013 and 2014, China was expected to continue to install 10 GW per year.[3]:37 In February 2014, China's NDRC upgraded its 2014 target from 10 GW to 14 GW[43] (later adjusted to 13 GW[44]) and ended up installing an estimated 10.6 GW due to shortcomings in the distributed PV sector.[45]
The country planned to install 100 GW capacity of solar power by 2022, a five-time increase from a previous target.[46]
Japan has a target of 53 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030, and 10% of total domestic primary energy demand met with solar PV by 2050. The 2030 target was reached in 2018.
PV watts per capita in Europe for 2014 and 2015 (projection)
  <0.1, n/a
  0.1–1
  1–10
  10–50
  50–100
  100–150
  150–200
  200–300
  300–450
  >450
(also see animated map, 1992–2014)
By 2020, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) expected PV capacity to pass 150 GW. It found the EC-supervised national action plans for renewables (NREAP) were too conservative, as the goal of 84 GW of solar PV by 2020 had already been surpassed in 2014 – preliminary figures accounted for close to 88 GW by the end of 2014.[4] For 2030, EPIA originally predicted solar PV would reach between 330 and 500 GW, supplying 10 to 15 percent of Europe's electricity demand. However, later reassessments were more pessimistic and foreacst a 7 to 11 percent share, if no major policy changes are undertaken.[3]:35

History of leading countries[edit]

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, followed by Germany, and currently China.

United States (1954–1996)[edit]

The United States, inventor of modern solar PV, was the leader of 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.[47][48] It was also there at Bell Labs where the first practical c-silicon cell was developed in 1954.[49][50] 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.

PV capacity of leading countries (MW)[4][a]
10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Year by year cumulative capacities of important markets
     UK        USA        Japan        China        Italy        Germany

In 1977 US-President Jimmy Carter installed solar hot water panels on the White House promoting solar energy[51] 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.[52][53] 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.[54] China's rapid PV growth continued in 2016 – with 34.2 GW of solar photovoltaics installed.[55] The quickly lowering feed in tariff rates at the end of 2015 motivated many developers to secure tariff rates before mid-year 2016 – as they were anticipating further cuts (correctly so). 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[56] 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).[57] 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.[57][58][59]

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
High Efficiency Diamond Wire Sliced Multi-Si Cell (>18.4%) $0.179
Mono-Si PERC Cell (>21.0%) $0.222
Mono-Si Cell (>20.0%) $0.206
Multi-Si Module (270W) $0.340
High Efficiency Multi-Si Module (280W) $0.350
Mono-Si Module (285W) $0.355
High Efficiency Mono-Si Module (300W) $0.400
Source: EnergyTrend, price quotes, average prices, 2 May 2018[60] 

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 June 2014 were as low as $0.36 per watt or 200 times less than almost forty years ago. Prices for thin-film solar cells and for c-Si solar panels were around $.60 per watt.[61] 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.[62] 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.[63]

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).[23] 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.[64] Other sources identified similar price ranges of $1.70 to $3.50 for the different market segments in the U.S.[65] 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.[66] 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.[11]:9 As of May 2017, a residential 5 kW-system in Australia cost on average about AU$1.25, or US$0.93 per watt.[67]

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'[23]:15
1U.S figures are lower in DOE's Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends[64]

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), lead to the bankruptcy of several thin-film companies that had once been highly touted.[68] The sector faced price competition from Chinese crystalline silicon cell and module manufacturers, and some companies together with their patents were sold below cost.[69]

Global PV market by technology in 2013.[70]: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.[71]: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%.[72] 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.[73]
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.[74] The company was reported in 2013 to be successfully producing CdTe-panels with a steadily increasing efficiency and declining cost per watt.[75]: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.[71]:31 The company Abound Solar, also a manufacturer of cadmium telluride modules, went bankrupt in 2012.[76]
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.[77][78] In 2014, the Japanese electronics and semiconductor company announced the closure of its micromorph technology development program.[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 March 2018, the ASP for polysilicon stands at $15.50/kg[60]

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.[92] All this has caused much controversy between proponents and opponents and was subject of debate.

History of deployment[edit]

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.

Worldwide annual deployment[edit]

2017: 95,000 MW (23.7%) 2016: 76,600 MW (19.1%) 2015: 50,909 MW (12.7%) 2014: 40,134 MW (10.0%) 2013: 38,352 MW (9.6%) 2012: 30,011 MW (7.5%) 2011: 30,133 MW (7.5%) 2010: 17,151 MW (4.3%) 2009: 7,340 MW (1.8%) 2008: 6,661 MW (1.7%) before: 9,183 MW (2.3%)Circle frame.svg
  •   2017: 95,000 MW (23.7%)
  •   2016: 76,600 MW (19.1%)
  •   2015: 50,909 MW (12.7%)
  •   2014: 40,134 MW (10.0%)
  •   2013: 38,352 MW (9.6%)
  •   2012: 30,011 MW (7.5%)
  •   2011: 30,133 MW (7.5%)
  •   2010: 17,151 MW (4.3%)
  •   2009: 7,340 MW (1.8%)
  •   2008: 6,661 MW (1.7%)
  •   before: 9,183 MW (2.3%)
Annual PV deployment as a %-share of global total capacity (estimate/projection for 2016/17).[2][93]

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.[94] Near end-of-year figures however raised estimates to 95 GW for 2017-installations.[93]

10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
90,000
100,000
2002
2006
2010
2014
Global annual installed capacity since 2002, in megawatts (hover with mouse over bar).

  annual deployment since 2002     2016: 76.8 GW (estimate)    2017: 105 GW

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 four 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)[95] for 2000–2013: EPIA Global Outlook on Photovoltaics Report[3]:17 and for 2014: preliminary figures based on IEA-PVPS' snapshot report[4]

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% [95]
1997 422 37% [95]
1998 566 34% [95]
1999 807 43% [95]
2000 1,250 55% [95]
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 229,300 29% [96]
2016 302,300 32%
2017 405,000 34% [97]
2018
2019
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
Growing number of solar gigawatt-markets

All time PV installations by country[edit]

Cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity (MWp)
Country 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Algeria   30 300
Australia 7.3 8.9 10.7 12.7 15.9 18.7 22.5 25.3 29.2 33.6 39.1 45.6 52.3 60.6 70.3 82.5 105 188 571 1377 2415 3226 4136 5109
Austria 0.6 0.8 1.1 1.4 1.7 2.2 2.9 3.7 4.9 6.1 10.3 16.8 21.1 24.0 25.6 28.7 32.4 52.6 95.5 187 363 626 766 935
Belgium   23.7 108 649 1067 2088 2722 3009 3074 3228
Brazil   5 D17 D32 F54
Bulgaria   5.7 35 141 1010 1020 1020 1021
Canada 1.0 1.1 1.5 1.9 2.6 3.4 4.5 5.8 7.2 8.8 10.0 11.8 13.9 16.8 20.5 25.8 32.7 94.6 281 558 766 1211 1710 2579
Chile   C<1 C2 3 368 848
China   19 23.5 42 52 62 70 80 100 140 300 800 3300 6800 19720 28199 43530
Croatia   0.2 20 34 45
Cyprus   3.3 6.2 9 17 32 65 70
Czech   463.3 1952 1959 2087 2175 2134 2083
Denmark   0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.4 0.5 1.1 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.9 2.3 2.7 2.9 3.1 3.2 4.6 7.1 16.7 408 563 603 783
Estonia   0.05 0.08 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 4.1
Finland   0.1 1 11 11 11.2 14.7
France 1.8 2.1 2.4 2.9 4.4 6.1 7.6 9.1 11.3 13.9 17.2 21.1 26.0 33.0 36.5 74.5 179 369 1204 2974 4090 4733 5660 6589
Germany 2.9 4.3 5.6 6.7 10.3 16.5 21.9 30.2 89.4 207 324 473 1139 2072 2918 4195 6153 9959 17372 24858 32462 35766 38200 39763
Greece   55 205 624 1536 2579 2595 2613
Guatemala   n/a F+6
Honduras   n/a F+5 389
Hungary   0.65 1.75 4 12 35 78 137
India   161 461 1205 2320 2936 5050
Ireland   0.4 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.9 1.0 1.1 2.1
Israel   0.9 1.0 1.3 1.8 3.0 24.5 69.9 190 237 481 731 886
Italy 8.5 12.1 14.1 15.8 16.0 16.7 17.7 18.5 19.0 20.0 22.0 26.0 30.7 37.5 50.0 120 458 1181 3502 12809 16454 18074 18460 18924
Japan 19.0 24.3 31.2 43.4 59.6 91.3 133 209 330 453 637 860 1132 1422 1709 1919 2144 2627 3618 4914 6632 13599 23300 34151
Latvia   0 0.2 0.2 0.2 1.5 1.5
Lithuania   0.07 0.2 0.3 6.2 68 68 73
Luxembourg   26.4 27.3 30 A30 A30 A45 125
Malaysia   5.5 7.0 8.8 11.1 12.6 13.5 35 73 160 231
Malta   1.53 1.67 12 16 23 54 73
Mexico 5.4 7.1 8.8 9.2 10.0 11.0 12.0 12.9 13.9 G13.9 G13.9 G13.9 G15.9 G16.9 G17.9 G18.9 G19.9 G24.9 G38.9 G29.9 G34.9 G65.9 G114.1 G170.1
Netherlands   0.1 0.1 0.3 0.7 1.0 1.0 5.3 8.5 16.2 21.7 39.7 43.4 45.4 47.5 48.6 52.8 63.9 84.7 143 I365 I739 I1048 I1405
Norway   B6.4 B6.6 B6.9 B7.3 B7.7 B8.0 B8.3 B8.7 B9.1 B9.5 B10 B11 13 15.3
Pakistan   ? 400 1000
Peru   0 D22 n/a n/a
Philippines   ? 33 155
Poland   1.38 1.75 3 7 7 24 87
Portugal 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.9 1.1 1.3 1.7 2.0 2.0 2.0 4.0 15 56 99 135 169 228 281 391 460
Romania   0.64 1.94 4 51 1151 1219 1325
Slovakia   0.19 148 508 523 524 533 591
Slovenia   9.0 35 81 201 212 256 257
South Africa   1 30 122 922 1120
South Korea 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 2.1 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.7 10.0 11.0 13.8 19.2 41.8 87.2 363 530 656 735 1030 1475 2384 3493
Spain   1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 4.0 7.0 12.0 23.0 48 145 693 H3421 H3438 H3859 H4322 H4603 H4766 H4872 H4921
Sweden 0.8 1.0 1.3 1.6 1.8 2.1 2.4 2.6 2.8 3.0 3.3 3.6 3.9 4.2 4.8 6.2 7.9 8.8 11 11 24 43 79 130
Switzerland 4.7 5.8 6.7 7.5 8.4 9.7 11.5 13.4 15.3 17.6 19.5 21.0 23.1 27.1 29.7 36.2 47.9 73.6 111 211 437 756 1076 1394
Taiwan   32 102 206 376 776 1010
Thailand   2.9 4.2 10.8 23.9 30.5 32.5 33.4 43.2 49.2 243 388 824 1299 1420
Turkey   0.2 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.9 1.3 1.8 2.3 2.8 3.3 4.0 5.0 6 7 8.5 18 58 266
Ukraine   3 191 326 616 n/a
UK 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.6 0.7 1.1 1.9 2.7 4.1 5.9 8.2 10.9 14.3 18.1 22.5 29.6 77 904 E1901 E3377 5104 8917
USA 43.5 50.3 57.8 66.8 76.5 88.2 100 117 139 168 212 275 376 479 624 831 1169 1256 2528 4383 7272 12079 18280 25600
References [99] [100] [101] [102][103] [104][105] [3][86] [4][106] [5][107][108]
Year 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Notes:
^A Strong discrepancy for Luxembourg: EPIA-figures report unchanged capacity of 30 MW for Y2011-2013 (source listed in row "References"), while Photovoltaic Barometer[109] reports a capacity of 76.7 MW for Y2012 and 100 MW for Y2013. Table displays EPIA figures.
^B Strong discrepancy for Norway: Figures based on BP-Statistical Review of world energy[95] and IEA-PVPS trend report|[86] as EIPA outlook report[3]:24 mentions virtually zero deployment (as 0.02 watt per capita results in 0.07 MW).
^C Different data source for Chile, figures based on reports[110] published by the Chilean Ministry of Energy—Centro de Energías Renovables (CER) and CORFO. Monthly reports revise figures retroactively. Distinction between solar PV and CSP is missing, however.
^D Figures for Brazil and Peru need to be checked, as sources are unclear. Peru's 22 MW reflects capacity of one solar farm opened in 2012[111][112] Historical data for these countries may be verifiable when new reports are released.
^E Displayed IEA-PVPS/EPIA figures for the United Kingdom differ significantly from those published by DECC.[113][114]
^F Only fragmented figures for all Central American and some Latin American countries available. Based on public figures from GTM's Latin America PV Playbook[115]
^G There's a strong discrepancy between the Trends 2014,[86] Trends 2015 and Trends 2016 report.[108] The cumulative capacity was revised downwards significantly for previous years in the 2016 report.
^H There's a discrepancy between Eur'Observ[106][116][117][103][118][119][107] data IEA[108] data where Eur'Observer reports about 10% less installed capacity. Eur'Observ data is used here.
^I There's a discrepancy between Eur'Observ and IEA. Eur'Observ data used here.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See section All time PV installations by country for the corresponding cited sources of historical data

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