Global Solar Installations Grew in 2009, Despite Recession

solarEven the biggest global recession since the Great Depression couldn’t stop the solar market from growing in 2009. Many analysts doubted growth would be possible due to the collapse of solar’s largest market in 2008 – Spain. But just released their annual report and the amount of solar installed in 2009 grew 6% from 2008 to 6.43 GW.

Europe Continues to Dominate Current Solar Market

Germany was able to pick up the slack from Spain and grow to ~50% of the global total. Italy, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere in Europe made up another 24% of the global market.

But Europe’s 74% global share was down from over 80% in 2008. The US remained the third largest solar market (this year after Germany and Italy) at 8% of the global market. Solar installations grew a quick 36% in the US to 485 MW in 2009. Japan ranked fourth after its market more than doubled.

Solar cell production is now close to 10 GW (less than a third of wind turbine production in 2009, but its catching up). Global solar demand may approach the 10 GW milestone in 2010 as it is expected to return to white-hot growth. This growth is less dependent on subsidies since the price of solar modules fell 38% during 2009 and prices are expected to continue to decrease in 2010. This could usher in the period of affordable solar by late 2010, especially if prices for oil, natural gas, and coal continue to trend higher.

While solar won’t be as cheap an emissions reduction option as the bicycle, its ability to compete economically with fossil fuels will be greatly enhanced in the year ahead.

Onwards in the Sustainable Energy Transition-

Dennis Markatos-Soriano

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