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International trends in photovoltaics at the PV Industry Forum

5th PV Industry Forum in Munich, May 25 – 26, 2009

International trends in photovoltaics at the PV Industry Forum
The photovoltaics market in flux: growing production capacities and altered political and economic parameters


Future developments, prospects and technological trends in the international photovoltaics market will be the focus of the 5th PV Industry Forum which will take place on May 25 and 26 at the International Congress Center in Munich (ICM). Production capacities are growing across all sections of the photovoltaics industry’s value added chain. The potential for cost reduction which this brings with it and the changing political economic parameters, particularly in Germany and Spain, will affect the future development of the international photovoltaics market.

Strong growth in 2008
2008 saw the continuance of the 2007 boom in the photovoltaics industry. In Germany, the total installed capacity of all solar power installations rose from 3.8 Gigawatt peak (GWp) in 2007 to around 5.3 GWp in 2008. When the German Renewable Energies Act came into force in 2000, the overall capacity just about totaled 100 Megawatt peak (MWp).

In 2008, the amount of new solar power capacity installed worldwide almost doubled, reaching approximately 4 GWp. With a world market share of 20 percent, Germany was in a position to maintain its high levels of capacity and its position among the market leaders. Around two thirds of the large-scale photovoltaic installations in operation throughout the world fed solar electricity into the Spanish grid. The USA had a 7 percent share in the world market, Korea just under 3 percent, and Portugal and Italy 2 percent each.

A changing market
Market researchers and analysts predict a similar amount of new installations in 2009. The reasons for the slowed growth are considered to be the international economic crisis and the cap on state funding for solar power in Germany and Spain.

The dynamic expansion of production capacity at all stages in the value added chain is resulting in an increase in the availability of modules. As a result, we are seeing a significant reduction in prices and a shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market – the competition is becoming increasingly fierce. The increased pressure to innovate could lead to more rapid reductions in the cost of solar power systems and increases in their efficiency, especially in favorable locations such as southern Europe and the deserts of the USA. The US market research institute iSuppli also predicts that quantities available worldwide of the previously scarce raw material silicon will double in 2009. Over 90 percent of all solar cells so far produced have been silicon-based. The increase in availability is leading to further reductions in cost.

State funding for solar power was cut at the beginning of 2009 in Germany and Spain; the world’s most successful photovoltaics markets to date. According to the recent WestLB study “Erneuerbare Energien (renewable energies)”, thin-film technologies are especially affected by the altered state funding parameters in Germany and Spain. The term “thin-film technology” refers to the manufacture of thin solar cells which are deposited directly onto inexpensive materials such as glass, metal or plastic film. These are frequently used in large solar parks, due to their capacity to be made into solar modules with a large surface area. The solar power generated by solar parks is fed into the countries’ electricity grids and the parks are therefore directly affected by the caps on funding for solar power.

Mixed outlook for 2009
Although module prices are set to fall over the coming year, the lower investment costs will probably not be able to compensate entirely for the reduction in state funding in Germany and Spain. In light of the current economic situation, it could therefore be more difficult to find buyers for the growing quantities of photovoltaic modules than it has been in previous years.

The current developments will also have positive mid-term effects on the international photovoltaics market, however. The industry will step up efforts to develop cost reduction potential and manufacturers will simultaneously expand their activities in promising new markets such as the USA, Italy, France, Greece, the Czech Republic and Japan. It should be added that the thin-film photovoltaics market is continuing to grow despite the altered funding regulations. The resource-saving production process and highly automated production lines, some of which are supplied as turnkey lines, mean that thin-film photovoltaics have an economic advantage over traditional silicon technology. Thin-film modules also have the aesthetic advantage of being integrable into buildings, which is rewarded with significantly higher feed-in tariffs for solar electricity in France, for instance. Transparent solutions and homogenous surfaces open up a whole host of design options. Most studies forecast that the market share of thin-film modules will rise to between 20 and 25 percent by 2010.

International trends in photovoltaics at the 5th PV Industry Forum
The question of how best to respond to the current developments in the industry will be discussed at the 5th PV Industry Forum on May 25 and May 26, 2009. Further central themes of the event will be approaches to achieving grid parity, progress in the development of crystalline silicon modules and thin-film photovoltaics. Technological issues such as current developments in concentrated photovoltaic systems or industrial-scale solar power generation will also be examined at the event, while inverter technologies will form a further key theme. The Forum is an international platform aimed at experts and decision-makers representing industry, research and the financial services sector. 850 participants are expected to attend the two-day event, which will take place at the International Congress Center in Munich on June 25 and 26. In 2009, the PV Industry Forum will, for the fifth time, form an important part of the fringe program of Intersolar, the world’s largest international trade show for solar technology.

Organizers of the 5th PV Industry Forum:
The 5th PV Industry Forum is jointly organized by Solar Promotion GmbH, Pforzheim, and PSE GmbH Freiburg.

Supporters of the 5th PV Industry Forum:
Supporters of the PV Industry Forum are the German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) and the German Energy Agency (Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH, dena).

Further information on the 5th PV Industry Forum
Solar Promotion GmbH | Postfach 100 170 | 75101 Pforzheim | Germany
Horst Dufner | Tel. +49-(0)7231-58 59 8 – 0| Fax +49-(0)7231-58 59 8 – 28

Media contact:
fischerAppelt Kommunikation München GmbH | Infanteriestraße 11a | 80797 Munich | Germany
Robert Schwarzenböck | Tel. +49-(0)89-747466-23 | Fax +49-(0)89-747466-66 | rs@fischerappelt.de