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Greentech Media

Stephen Lacey is a Senior Editor at Greentech Media, where he focuses primarily on energy efficiency. He has extensive experience reporting on the business and politics of cleantech. He was...

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These Charts Show How Solar Energy Demand Has Shifted Around the World

In recent years, the global solar market has looked a lot like a monarchy, with Europe reining as king of installations.

But Europe is quickly losing its crown as egalitarianism sweeps the industry, bringing a more diversified set of markets around the world. 

Between 2006 and 2011, Europe represented more than 70 percent of global solar installations. In 2008 and 2010, the region made up roughly 85 percent of installations. But subsidy reform and solar high penetrations are slowing deployment there, while other regions start picking up the pace.

“That kind of dominance is a thing of the past,” said Adam James, GTM Research’s global demand analyst. “Demand is becoming more diffused globally.”

To show how global solar markets are expanding, James shared this chart illustrating how Europe’s solar crown is getting knocked off by, well, every other major region cumulatively — Asia, North America, and to a lesser extent the up-and-coming Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) and Latin American markets:

Source: GTM Research

Here’s another way to look at the ongoing diversification. Click on the graph to enlarge:

Source: GTM Research

With the Chinese and Japanese markets surging, the Asia-Pacific region has grown its installation share from just over 10 percent in 2010 to around half of the global market in 2013. Europe only represented around one third of demand for 2013 — and will likely decline to one quarter of demand by the end of this year.

North America continues its steady pace of installations, but will won’t likely unseat Europe on its own. 

Saudi Arabia and Turkey will lead the charge in the MENA market, which could make up 3 gigawatts of yearly installations after 2015.

And although solar incentives are a leading indicator of where installations will boom next, some of the diversification is starting to come from unsubsidized Latin American markets such as Chile and Mexico. Those countries will offer a comparatively small market, but enough of a pipeline to attract the biggest developers.

“In other places, like Latin America, companies with a global presence are trying their hand at purely unsubsidized markets with strong fundamentals,” said James.

AES Gener, First Solar, SunEdison and a variety of other large developers are partnering with local companies to figure out the dynamics in these burgeoning countries, giving them a range of new opportunities beyond the Old World of solar markets.

“Europe isn’t just passing the crown to Asia-Pacific,” explained Adam James, GTM Research’s global demand analyst. “Now markets are far more distributed. “You see this new reality reflected by many companies that are regionally diversifying their downstream business and exploring multiple markets — not just chasing the ball like 5-year old soccer players.”

For more on this topic, see GTM Research’s Latin America PV Playbook and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Solar Market Outlook, 2013-2017.

greentech mediaGreentech Media (GTM) produces industry-leading news, research, and conferences in the business-to-business greentech market. Our coverage areas include solar, smart grid, energy efficiency, wind, and other non-incumbent energy markets. For more information, visit: , follow us on twitter: @greentechmedia, or like us on Facebook:

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Pete Stiles's picture
Pete Stiles on Jan 17, 2014

I don’t think any worse colours for the graph could have been chosen and as for telling the color of the tiny key colours…..Forget it.

A shame as I was really interested.

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