International trends in solar energy
Europe will continue it’s dominance of the market up until around 2015, at which point developing countries in the rest of the world and China will begin to take over as the major markets.
The general idea behind this is threefold:
- European and American markets will continue to struggle with the current economic crisis, lowering investment potential and closing up lines of credit required to commission and continue installations and research in renewable energy.
- China has a fantastic infrastructure in place for renewables especially solar energy component manufacturing, as we know from previous articles.
- For the rest of the world, research has shown that developing countries with heavy reliance on fossil fuel and the fastest growing populations present significant investment opportunities for renewable energy. This is due to the constant increases in energy demand that comes proportionally with population growth and also the high comparative costs fossil fuels have in more remote, developing regions. Latin America is one prime example of this, as exemplified here.
Solar is a big winner from that graph so let’s look specifically at that. One of the main identified drivers of a specific technology taking off is the lowering in manufacturing costs. Solar power, especially photovoltaics, has seen unprecedented drops in it’s costs over the last two decades and this trend will continue by up to 60% from now until 2030. There is approximately USD $86 billion invested in solar technology development in 2011, but that figure is projected to rise to USD $150 billion by 2020 and continue at such a plateau until 2030. That means continued lowering in upfront capital required for installations of all sizes, and a fantastic growth margin over time.
Overall, renewable energy and Carbon Capture Sources accounted for some 23% of power generation in the world in 2010. By the time 2030 rolls around Bloomberg, PV-Tech and Energy Trend have different figures on what this will reach, but by and large an estimate of 33% is expected. Whilst the government incentives here in the UK have taken on a new level recently, this will not affect the upwards trend of the industry and solar as being a big part of that in the UK.