A roundup of PV in Q3
At the beginning of December, a number of countries published installation statistics for the third quarter of 2012 or for the first 10 months. Germany continues to roar on towards a new record for the year, and there was also significant movement in other countries.
Germany's Network Agency says that 611 megawatts of photovoltaics was installed in October, bringing the total for the first 10 months of the year up to 6.83 gigawatts – an increase of around two thirds over the level of 2011, which was itself a record year. It therefore seems likely that a new record will be set in 2012, when roughly 7.5 gigawatts was installed.
That year, however, there was a rush in December to complete installations by the end of the year before new feed-in tariffs took effect on January 1. But this year, the rush has already taken place. While further cuts to German feed-in tariffs for solar are scheduled, it is unlikely that there will be such a great surge in November and December. But even if Germany continues at a pace of 611 megawatts per month, it would have more than 7.2 gigawatts in a year – still more than double the official target of 3.5 gigawatts annually.
Portuguese energy regulator DGGE announced far more modest installation figures for the first three quarters of 2012, though they represent considerable growth. Despite the country's excellent solar conditions,the Portuguese only had around 143 megawatts of photovoltaics installed by the end of 2011. But in the first three quarters of 2012, Portugal installed 37.6 megawatts, more than was installed in the previous year.
Neighboring Spain continues to post impressive figures for solar as well, mainly in terms of the share of solar in the country's power supply. In the first 10 months of 2012, the Spanish got 1.8 percent of their electricity from the more than four gigawatts of photovoltaics installed in the country, putting the total for the year up to 3.4 percent. Concentrating solar power (CSP) adds on another 1.3 percent to that total, bringing the share of solar altogether up to 4.7 percent up to the end of October.
As in Spain, the French market refuses to pick up again (official PDF in French), though France nearly added a gigawatt of new photovoltaics in the first three quarters of 2012, according to the official figures released. Nonetheless, these figures mean that the growth is down by a quarter year over year. On the other hand, France had an installed capacity of nearly 4 gigawatts (3,923 megawatts) as of September 30, 2012 – roughly as much as all of the much bigger US market at the end of 2011. Figures for the US are not published as quickly because no single entity is responsible for tallying the numbers. (Craig Morris)