Photovoltaic European markets in 2012 and it's prospective
The decline overall in Europe’s PV market in 2012 hides various realities at national level; the market evolution was very different from one country to another. Even in Germany, the apparent market stability is the result of a chaotic evolution, due to regulatory changes and hectic responses from investors. Germany has seen three consecutive years with a roughly stable 7.4-7.6 GW of connections, leading to a total installed capacity in the country of a record 32.4 GW. This was accompanied by a progressive evolution in market dynamics, with 2012 showing PV gradually becoming self-sustainable. With PV’s Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) now lower than the price of retail electricity, at least in the residential and commercial segments in Germany, PV development can be at least partially driven by self-consumption rather than only FiTs.
Also, it should be remembered that the 7.5 GW connected in 2011 included 3 GW that had already been reported as installed in December 2011, but that were only physically connected in the first part of 2012; in other words, there is not really a constant level of 7.5 GW. A more realistic view of Germany’s market in the last months shows a relative stabilisation at around 5-6 GW a year, quite far from the government expectations.
In Italy, 3.4 GW of PV were connected to the grid in 2012. This is a significant decrease from the major boom seen in 2011, with 9.45 GW. But as was the case with Germany in 2011, many systems connected to the grid in Italy that year had actually been installed at the end of 2010.The numbers are different when analysing the market from an installation point of view; in this case, the Italian market was closer to 4-5 GW in 2010, 6-7 GW in 2011 and around 3.5 GW in 2012. After the rush of 2011, the Italian market has returned to a level that nevertheless remains high. Having reached a financial cap for FiTs, the Italian market will experience the transition to the post-FiT era faster than many expected.
In the UK, which installed 925 MW in 2012, the long-term prospects remain quite positive even if the speed at which the market develops is not so impressive. Greece installed almost 1 GW (912 MW), a record level for this country hit by an extremely hard recession, and 2013 could be a good year as well despite more restrictive conditions. Bulgaria experienced a boom in 2012, with 767 MW installed before the government reacted with harsh retroactive measures to slow the market growth; in 2013 the country’s market will most probably slow down significantly. Belgium installed again a quite high level with 599 MW (with Wallonia’s impressive 269 MW in the residential segment only), in a context of strong political concern over the cost of support schemes. This could lead to a relatively low market in 2013. Denmark was one of the surprises of the year with 378 MW, but the boom could be stopped in 2013. Austria installed 230 MW and Switzerland 200 MW. They have contributed marginally to market development, even if the numbers they have reached are the result of a major market growth.
Some countries, notably Poland, failed to fulfil expectations in 2012 and the prospects for 2013 remain weak. In Spain, the government imposed an unexpected moratorium on FiTs, destroying what remained of the PV market; only 276 MW were connected to the grid in 2012 in this country, which should be among the European leaders. The long-expected net-metering scheme was never introduced and there are doubts as to whether it ever will be, given the government’s fear of creating another boom.
Ukraine experienced impressive growth in 2011 with almost 190 MW connected, thanks solely to the development of two very large power plants realised by one company. In 2012, 182 MW were installed again and the potential remains interesting. The Czech Republic finally installed 113 MW, a more important achievement than expected but very far from the booming levels of 2009 and 2010. Slovakia, which experienced a relative boom at the end of 2011 and the first semester of 2012, went down to only a few megawatts while the market in Slovenia grew once again, this time to 117 MW. Romania also has a certain untapped potential and the market in 2012 brought only 26 MW to the counter but many expect this market could grow in 2013.
Russia remains quite low with only a few megawatts installed and little perspective on the short term. Sweden sees each year some megawatts being installed but without significant policies and prospects.
The top-five countries per segment show the continued domination of the largest markets (Germany,Italy, France, UK).