More than 29 GW of PV systems were newly connected to the grid worldwide in 2011, up from about 17 GW in 2010. In the same year, Europe was confirmed as the predominant area of global PV demand, hosting 75% of the overall new capacity. Italy was the largest market for the year with 9,3 GW newly connected to the grid, followed by Germany (7,5 GW) and France (1,6 GW). The cumulated photovoltaic capacity installed in Europe by end of the year 2011 is estimated at more than 51 GW, from about 30 GW the year before. In 2011, China was the most active market outside Europe, with 2,2 GW installed, followed by USA with 1,9 GW. The significant EU domestic imbalance between demand and supply of photovoltaic modules persisted in 2011, with less than 30% of the demand satisfied domestically. The imbalance is much lower for inverters of PV systems and almost invisible for the EPC/installation services, which are supplied almost entirely by EU companies. These considerations are important because, with falling module prices, balance of system costs become increasingly relevant. For instance, balance of system costs are now more than module costs in some commercial and ground-mount systems.
The feed-in tariffs support schemes for photovoltaics, first introduced in Europe, have permitted the industry to grow and step up to become a mainstream power generation technology. During the last few years, we have recorded substantial changes to the industry structure and, especially, an accelerated price reduction of the technology. This has led to continued rushes on installations, as investors have tried to make the most of the difference between feed-in tariffs and the cost of photovoltaic electricity. The growth of the photovoltaic market was unanticipated by National authorities, despite the application of a number of complex schemes, which were intended to take market dynamics into account. It appears now that the combined effect of reductions of the support schemes, the introduction of caps, and restricted access to finance will limit the growth of the photovoltaic installations in Europe. In the coming years, Asia (in particular China and Japan) and USA are likely to assume an increasing share of the photovoltaic demand.
The predictability and consistency of the current prices with the scale of the sector justify further consideration, particularly with regard to whether the center of gravity of the photovoltaic industry has already moved from technology development and demonstration to market deployment. The shaping of future national support instruments might benefit from the conclusions of such considerations.
In this paper, we first describe the European policy framework and envisage its development for preparing the right regulatory, industrial and technological configuration and legal instruments for the post 2020 environment. In particular, we discuss the new Commission Communication Renewable Energy: a major player in the European energy market”. The Commission wishes renewable energy to be developed as cost effectively as possible and will continue to work with Member States on the implementation of the RES Directive to facilitate the convergence of national support schemes. The best conditions for the development of renewable energy should be ensured, with schemes following best practice, avoiding overcompensation and retroactive changes. It seems to us that a strong sense of direction towards 2030 is needed soon, to support long-term investment decisions and to enable markets to integrate higher shares of renewables.
Second, we present the results of the 7th Framework programme (FP7), highlighting the newly selected projects and breakthroughs, and we discuss the investments operated in the various strands of photovoltaic activities. It is worth recalling that FP7 is ending and the last calls of the programme have been already published. The next framework programme for research and innovation for the 2014-2020 period, Horizon 2020, is already in an advanced phase of preparation.
Third, we discuss the activities carried out under the second Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) Programme aiming at transforming the PV market. We also provide an update on the status of the NER300 initiative, which represents another funding opportunity for European PV projects.
Finally, we describe the implementation of the Solar European Industrial Initiative of the SET-Plan.
Full report published by DG Energy (European Commission) you would find on this link.