Worldwide Growth of PV Industry Continues Apace

April 26, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Major announcements related to the development and growth of the photovoltaic (PV) industry have recently been issued, with implications for the North American, Asian, and European markets.

Kyocera Corp., based in Japan, announced that it will double its manufacturing capacity from 240 megawatts (MW) to 500 MW by the end of March 2011. New raw material contracts will allow the company to expand capacity throughout its quadripartite global manufacturing network for solar modules, which includes plants in Yohkaichi and Ise, Japan; Tijuana, Mexico; Kadan, Czech Republic; and Tianjin, China. Kyocera will invest an estimated 30 billion yen (US$ $250 million) in plants and equipment throughout this network during the course of the expansion effort.

Solarfun Power Holdings Co., Ltd., a leading manufacturer of PV cells and modules in China, and Ecostream, a leading renewable energy system integrator based in the Netherlands, announced a supply framework agreement in which Ecostream has indicated its intention to procure 182MW of PV modules from Solarfun between 2007 – 2010. As a part of this agreement, Ecostream has committed to purchase 12MW of photovoltaic modules from Solarfun in 2007.

Canadian Solar Inc. announced the opening of its subsidiary, CSI Cells Co., Ltd. in Suzhou, China. The first phase of CSI Cell’s new facility, with an area of about 10,000 sq meters, has an annual capacity of 25MW, and is expected to be ramped up to 100MW by the middle of Q4 of 2007.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., headquartered in China, announced that it has reached an agreement to supply close to 3,000 solar modules for installation in the San Francisco International Airport’s (SFIA) new Terminal T3 solar project. The solar modules will be installed by San Francisco based BASS Electric. The 450KW system will cover the approximate area of a football field and will be visible to the public from the SFIA Air Train. The system will also be integrated with a new roof membrane further protecting the building by blocking UV exposure and reducing heating of the roof.

From the 2nd Photovoltaic Mediterranean Conference, which took place in Athens, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) announced that (by 2020) PV electricity will be able to provide a power supply for over 26 Million households in the Mediterranean, with a simultaneous creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs. In 2006, EPIA estimates that photovoltaic energy supplied 400GWh of electricity all over the Mediterranean, while it expects that in 2010 it will amount to 5TWh and 78TWh in 2020. In particular, this could have very positive impact on the environment as it could enable to save 47 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2020.

According to the EPIA, for the last 5 years, the PV sector has experienced annual growth of 40%. It is expected that this trend will continue until 2010. Between 2011 and 2016 the growth rate is expected to stabilise at 26% while from 2016 to 2020 growth should be at 19%. In 2007 the global PV industry is expected to invest 26 billion euros in new production capacities. EPIA estimates that investments until 2010 will raise to 14 billion in order to meet the increasing demand.

In the conclusions of the two-day conference, the EPIA presented 8 proposals which were adopted by the members and the participants from 30 countries. Among the proposals were a call to simplify the licensing process for PV installations, and for governments not to adopt legislation which could limit PV usage in the building sector.