Europe ranks highest in PV electricity generation capacity

According to a new report, more than three quarters of the world’s new photovoltaic (PV) solar systems were installed in Europe in 2009, producing a peak amount of new electricity of around 5.8GW.

By the end of 2009, Europe’s cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity (existing and newly installed) was 16GW, which is about 70 per cent of the world’s total (22GW).

The figures were revealed as part of the findings of the ninth annual Photovoltaics Status Report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Most of the European Union’s (EU’s) growth in 2009 occurred in Germany, where 3.8GW of new solar power was installed, bringing the total power generated in that country to 9.8GW. In the fourth quarter alone, around 2.3GW of power was connected to the grid. In fact, Germany ranks first in the world for cumulative installed capacity, followed by Spain at 3.5GW, thanks to the renewable energy legislation in these countries.

Second in the PV growth ranking was Italy, which added 0.73GW of power, followed by Japan with 0.48GW, the US with 0.46GW, the Czech Republic with 0.41GW and Belgium with 0.3GW.

However, in the EU, only 0.4 per cent of total electricity supplied to users came from PV systems in 2009. Worldwide, the percentage was a mere 0.1 per cent.

When it comes to the production of PV cells, the report estimates that this has increased worldwide to 11.5GW in 2009 – 56 per cent up from 2008; the growth, however, was mainly in China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

The report also notes that the over-capacity for solar modules caused a dramatic price reduction of almost 50 per cent over two years, with an average selling price now less than €1.50 (£1.25) per Watt.