Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Empowering the World

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) , Greenpeace International and Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES) are pleased to present the 6th edition of the “Solar Generation 6: Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Empowering the World” report.

This report aims at providing a clear and comprehensible description of the current status of the developing photovoltaic power generation worldwide and its untapped potentials and growth prospects in the coming years.

Global evolution of PV installed capacity

During 2010, the photovoltaic (PV) market has shown unprecedented growth and wide deployment of this environmentally friendly source of power generation. On a global scale, approximately 15,000 MW of new PV installations have been added during 2010, amounting the entire PV capacity to almost 40,000 MW. This number has risen above the optimistic forecast contained in the report, and it also translates into investments of over 50 bn€ in 2010, again ahead of the report’s forecast.
Total of world cumulative PV installed capacity under three scenarios

The most impressive result is however the number of installations and consequently, the number of individuals, companies, and public entities participating in this development: nearly 2 million single PV installations produce photovoltaic power already today.

The cumulative electrical energy produced from global PV installations in 2010 equals more than half of the electricity demand in Greece, or the entire electricity demand in ten central African countries (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon and Ghana).

The strong growth in PV installations is currently driven in particular by European countries, accounting for some 70% of the global market, followed by the promising key markets of North America, Japan, China and Australia. At the same time, the PV arena has importantly widened its number of participating countries and also increased their specific weight. Major new areas for development lie also in the Sunbelt region, in Africa, Middle East and in South America that is just starting to create new growth opportunities dedicated to covering local demand.

The major competitive advantages of PV technology lie in its versatility, i.e. the wide range of sizes and sites, resulting in proximity to electricity demand, in the value of its production profile concentrated during peak-load hours, and in its enormous potential for further cost reduction.

PV technology has reduced its unit costs to roughly one third of what it did 5 years ago, thanks to continuous technological progress, production efficiency and to its wide implementation. The trend of decreasing unit cost will continue in the future, just like in comparable industries such as semiconductors and TV screens. Adding to the important feature of integrated PV solutions in architecture in particular, the potential of further growth is simply enormous.

The 6th edition of the Solar Generation report combines different growth scenarios for global PV development and electricity demand until 2050. It is built on the results of several reference market studies in order to accurately forecast PV growth in the coming decades. In addition, the economic and social benefits of PV, such as employment and CO2 emissions reduction, are also analysed. With PV becoming a cost competitive solution for producing power, it will open up a variety of new markets and contribute more and more significantly to cover our future energy needs.

PV technology has all the potential to satisfy a double digit percentage of the electricity supply needs in all major regions of the world. Going forward, a share of over 20% of the world electricity demand in 2050 appears feasible, and opens a bright, clean and sunny future to all of us.

Total of world cumulative PV installed capacity under three scenarios

Reference for the future

This publication is the sixth edition of the reference global solar scenarios that have been established by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace jointly for almost ten years. They provide well documented scenarios establishing the PV deployment potential worldwide by 2050.

The first edition of Solar Generation was published in 2001. Since then, each year, the actual global PV market has grown faster that the industry and Greenpeace had predicted.

Annual PV installed PV capacity
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)