By Gaëtan Masson, Head of Business Intelligence Unit, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA),
Solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity continued its remarkable growth trend in 2011, even in the midst of a financial and economic crisis and despite the PV industry going through a difficult period. Once again PV markets grew faster than anyone had expected, just as they have done for the past decade, especially in Europe but also around the world. While such a rapid growth rate cannot be expected to last forever in Europe, prospects for growth around the world remain high. The results of 2011 – and indeed the outlook for the next several years – show that under the right policy conditions, PV can continue its progress towards competitiveness in key electricity markets and be a mainstream energy source. The major system-price decrease that was experienced in 2011, combined with measures taken in Germany and Italy after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, allowed the market to further develop in 2011, particularly in these two countries. However, the price decrease also helped weaken the policy support in many countries, with policymakers facing growing discontent with regard to the perceived cost of PV and the ailing PV industry in Europe.
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