After two years at the top, Germany is this year likely to lose its place as the world's top PV solar market, slipping to No. 2 behind former runner-up Italy, whose incentives-driven climb to the top of Europe's PV table heralds a major success for the country.
Italy's booming solar power market is expected to grow nearly four times to 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2020 as part of incentive-driven efforts to fight climate change, the head of Italy's top utility has said.
Italy's solar market has rapidly grown since 2007 when the government boosted production subsidies, attracting the world's biggest makers of photovoltaic modules.
"Propelled by residential and institutional investors who support green initiatives as well as sustainable funding, Germany has been the world's leading country for PV installations since 2009," said Dr. Henning Wicht, director and principal analyst for photovoltaics at IHS. "However, installations in the country stalled in the first half of 2011. And while the market recovered in the second half, the increase was insufficient to generate growth for the whole year. Meanwhile, the Italian government's attractive incentives boosted the country's installations massively, giving it the top position worldwide."
"As of June 30 2011, we had already exceeded a national target set for 2020 of 8 gigawatts (GW)," Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Italy's biggest utility, Enel , said at the official opening of a new solar modules manufacturing plant.
"Going ahead at the same pace, we can estimate that we can arrive at 30 GW in 2020," Conti said.
Rome cut incentives in May to reduce the burden on consumers who support the scheme through power bills. However, market growth has once again picked up as investors and industry operators still see satisfactory returns.