The recently released International Energy Agency 2015 Snapshot Report show that the PV market grew again in 2015 to 50GW, up from 40GW in 2014. The total installed capacity in the IEA PVPS countries and key markets has risen to at over 227 GW and, unlike the Australian market, shows no signs of slowing.
The introduction of feed‐in tariffs in Germany allowed the industry to move from a niche market to an industrial‐size market. Policies such as these transformed markets and led to economies of scale and accelerated technology improvements in manufacturing and deployment.
Economies of scale in particular have led to steep price declines such that now, even with the withdrawal of substantial number of incentive programs, photovoltaics is increasingly competitive and the market continues to grow year-on-year.
Last year’s total of 50GW represents a 25 per cent increase year-on-year. With a continuing shift from established OECD markets to new markets, notably in Asia, the Asia‐Pacific region now represents around 59 per cent of the global PV market and is the leading region for the third year in a row.
In Australia, with the Solar Flagships fields coming on line over 2015, the total installed capacity in was 935MW, keeping Australia in the top ten for installed capacity in 2015.
The most significant international market was China, with its market progressing to 15.3 GW. The second largest market was Japan with 11 GW in 2015, ahead of the growing US market, with more than 7 GW. India, with a 2 GW market in 2015 is the rising star in the PV sector.
But Australia may no longer keep its place in the top ten for installed capacity. India will almost certainly move up the table in 2016, leaving Australia at the bottom of the leader table. Korea and France are installing at a rate that could see Australia lose its long-held position in the top-ten countries for installed solar.
In 22 countries, the annual PV contribution to electricity demand has passed the 1 per cent mark, with Italy at the top of the list at around 8%, followed by Greece at 7.4% and Germany at 7.1%. At 3.3 per cent, Australia remains in the top ten by contribution to demand.
PV has rapidly taken a place as a major source of electricity in countries all over the world. The speed of its development stems from its unique ability to cover most market segments; from the very small individual systems for rural electrification to utility‐size power plants (today over 750 MWp). From the built environment to large ground‐mounted installations PV is increasingly competitive in a variety of environments.
Renate Egan is chair of the Australian PV Institute