Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Photovoltaics on the roof of the first school in Redbridge (London)

Production and use of photovoltaics modules continues to increase dramatically© Fabienne Winkworth (stock.xchng)

Solar panel production worldwide almost doubled in 2008


The JRC's Institute for Energy (IE) today publishes its eighth Annual Photovoltaics Status Report. The report notes that global production of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules and panels increased to about 7.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, representing an 80% increase on the previous year.

Europe's production of solar cells rose from 1.1 GW to 1.9 GW, while the installed capacity increased threefold to 4.8 GW, mainly led by Spain, where figures multiplied almost five times from 560MW in 2007 to 2.5 - 2.7 GW. Cumulative installed PV electricity generation capacity in the world was around 15 GW, with Europe accounting for more than 60% of this (9.5 GW).

Global investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency was hit by the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, but is now showing signs of a strong recovery. The report notes a significant slowdown in investment in the second half of 2008 (-10% in the third quarter and -23% in the fourth), that continued in the first quarter of 2009 (-47% compared with the fourth quarter of 2008), but started to reverse in the second quarter ( 83% compared with the first quarter of 2009).

The report gives an overview of current activities in research, manufacturing and market implementation in this sector. It shows that European PV production has grown on average by 50% per annum since 1999 and its market share has increased to 26% in 2008. In terms of electricity generation, photovoltaics provided for approximately 0.35% of Europe's final electricity consumption in 2008.

The report also points out that in 2008 China became the leading producer of solar cells with an annual production of about 2.4 GW, followed by Europe with 1.9 GW, Japan with 1.2 GW and Taiwan with 0.8 GW. It this trend continues, China might have about 32% of the world-wide production capacity by 2012.