Solar Power » Market

The Solar Power Market

The solar power market is divided by technology into a photovoltaics segment and a concentrated solar thermal segment.

Photovoltaics - Segment

In absolute terms, electricity generation from photovoltaics is still very much a niche market. The worldwide installed capacity at the end of 2014 was 177GW. During 2014 38GW have been added.

Majority of global market share used to be held by Europe. Germany held a record 50% of market share in 2009. By 2014 the market has shifted to Asia (over 50%), America and also Africa with South Africa installing 800MW.

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With lower capital cost per kW and decreasing costs of storage, the market is set to grow both in generation capacity and revenues..

The Top PV Countries 2014


The Top-5 countries for photovoltaics in 2014 were China, Japan, U.S., United Kingdom and Germany. The biggest surprise may have been the UK with over 2GW.

PV installs 2014 by country

Cumulative Installations 2014


When it comes to cumulative installation of solar photovoltaics, Germany is still ahead with 38GW, though that lead will be lost to China in the near future.

PV installs 2014 by country

PV Installations by Size


Driven by tariff structures and availability of space, developers decide on size and location of an installation. Consequently, countries like Romania and Spain have focused on large-scale (>1MW) systems whilst others such as Netherlands or Portugal have virtually no utility-scale installations. In Germany, more than 60% of all solar capacity has been built on roofs, in Portugal even near 100%.
PV installs 2014 by country

Whilst in Romania, solar pv could be seen as just another technology that generates power in huge individual blocs, solar in the Netherlands is truly distributed on residential roofs, owned by individuals rather than utilities.

PV Installations by Technology


Off-grd vs on-grid PVAs of 2008, almost 90% of solar modules were made of crystalline silicon. Driven by the high cost for crystalline silicon and the supply-chain bottleneck until 2008, more and more manufacturers offer thin-film modules. In addition, further technologies are developed, based on organic materials.

Over time, thin film and new technologies will take market share from crystalline silicon.

Capacity for silicon is ramped up radically while new manufacturing processes will put pressure on price. These measures will ensure that crystalline silicon will remain the most widely used technology at least for the next two decades.

PV Installations by Application and Country


Off-grd vs on-grid PVPhotovoltaics can be grid- connected or entirely off-grid. The latter option is used for islands or remote areas that do not have access to a national grid.

Not surprisingly, the split between off-grid and grid-connected photovoltaics differs from country to country. Off-grid pv applications offer a real alternative especially in countries with vast expanses (like Canada, Australia) or a less reliable national grid (Mexico).

While the market used to be dominated by Europe and therefore grid-connected photovoltaics, over the next 30 years, we will probably see a shift towards off-grid installations, especially in Africa, India and Mexico where large populations will never have access to a national grid infrastructure..

The Concentrated Solar Thermal - Segment


How big is the market and how fast is it growing?


Concentrated Solar Thermal Market 2000 - 2020Like Photovoltaics, Concentrated Solar Thermal in 2009 is small in comparison to the overall electricity generation. In fact, it is a tenth of the Photovoltaics market.

Nevertheless, there are a significant number of plants already under construction or in the pipeline. These projects will ramp up the cumulative capacity very quickly and push Concentrated Solar Thermal from First Generation into Deployment.

The market is forecast to reach 25GW by 2020 worth $80bn over a decade.

As Concentrated Solar Thermal requires direct sun beam radiation rather than diffuse light, there are potentially fewer locations than for photovoltaics. Hence, the majority of installations in 2008 is in Spain and the U.S.

Which technology and where will it be deployed?


CST by technology and countryThe majority of installations will remain in the U.S. and Spain, though other sunny countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific will follow.

Among the reflector technologies, the dominant design will be the parabolic trough followed by the solar tower model. Together, they will have a market share of 80%, not hugely different from the presence.

Downloads: Consolidated Solar Markets Data as used for diagrams

ReferencesGartner Report on PV Market Forecast
Market Study on Concentrated Solar Thermal

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