March 29, 2009 – Global PV output surged to “at least” 5.5GW  in 2008, up from 2.4GW in 2007, according to preliminary data from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Installed capacity rose to nearly 15GW (up from 9GW a year ago).
Spain represented almost half of new installations in 2008, nearly twice as many as Germany (see table). The US trailed well behind in third place, just ahead of South Korea, Italy, and Japan; several other European nations were bunched together with ~50MW of PV installations.
“A diversification of the market is taking place with countries adopting appropriate support policies,” noted Winfried Hoffmann (from Applied Materials GmbH), who was recently re-elected as EPIA chairman until 2010. “This is very good news for the PV industry and the environment.”
Not surprisingly, the EPIA sees “high uncertainties” for PV markets in 2009, but suggests it could top 7.7GW. Factors include Spain’s support scheme (notably a development cap), and hopes that demand will be filled in by top markets such as the US, Germany, France, and Italy which are all eyeing “favorable policy frameworks” such as feed-in tariffs. By 2013, the group projects, the global PV market could top 22GW
Top 10 PV markets in 2008. (Source: EPIA)
 GW refers to the nominal power under Standard Test Conditions STC (1000W/m2/year, 25°C, 1.5 AM)
 Preliminary figures only
Looking just at the US PV market, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said total PV capacity rose 17% to 8.775GW, with PV accounting for 27% of the US’ total 1.265GW of solar power installations of all types (others include solar water heating, pool heating, and space heating). Grid-tied PV installations increased by 18,000, growth of 27%, while PV manufacturing capacity increased 65% vs. 2007, and production rose 53%.
SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch echoed the EPIA’s acknowledgement of political support as a growth driver: “To continue growing, create jobs and meet President Obama’s renewable energy goals, we need smart federal policies, like a renewable portfolio standard designed to deploy solar resources. Today’s technology combined with the right policies will help us double U.S. solar production and move to a clean energy future.”
This article was originally published by Photovoltaics World.