Solar PV (photovoltaic) is a technology wherein solar panels made from semiconductor materials are exposed to sunlight, thus generating electricity. Countries across the world bank on solar PV as it is a renewable energy source. This technology is cost-efficient and used in residential & commercial applications. Implementation of solar PV in various countries has reduced the LCOE (Levelised Cost of Energy), giving stiff competition to other forms of conventional energy.
This has resulted in affordable electricity rates, making the technology a favorable alternative for oil or gas power plants. The solar PV market is projected to reach 489.8 GW (gigawatts) by 2020. Regulatory policies like FIT (Feed In Tariff) in the sunbelt regions of the Middle East and Latin America would result in more installations, furthering the demand for solar PV.
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Market applications include residential, commercial/non-residential, and utility. Residential includes roof top solar PV to provide electricity for household applications. Commercial consists of installations in sunlit areas to store solar energy. These installations serve as a source of supplementary energy during rush hours.
Utility solar PVs generate energy for grid systems, which in turn distributes it for conventional sources. They occupied around 45% shares in the total solar PV market installations. This segment has a capacity of more than 45 GW, with a CAGR over 21% from 2013 to 2020 (forecast period).
Residential accounted for over 25% of the market installations. It will lose shares to the rapidly growing utility segment. Non-residential applications are estimated to witness a CAGR above 20% in the next six years.
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In 2012, Europe led the solar PV market in terms of installations and had a capacity of more than 70 GW. Countries depending on these installations for energy comprise Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and United Kingdom. Germany was the largest market in Europe in 2012, followed by Italy. Asia Pacific had the second largest market, with capacity over 12 GW. China will experience a CAGR exceeding 35% during the forecast period. North America had the third largest market, with the U.S. and Canada together having a capacity surpassing 7 GW.
First Solar and Yingli Green Energy are the largest players in the global solar PV market. Other prominent players include ReneSola, REC, Canadian Solar, and Sharp.
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