Intersolar is sending a positive message to the industry – solar energy generation around the world is on the rise. Around 329 billion US dollars were invested in renewable energies last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This represents a considerable increase of 4% from the previous year, and even stands 3% higher than the previous record achieved in 2011. Furthermore, after a difficult few years, growth returned to Europe’s photovoltaics (PV) market in 2015. This means that Intersolar Europe, too, can report positive figures for 2016. The world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry and its partners is set to take place from June 22–24, 2016 at Messe München, accompanied in parallel by ees Europe, the continent’s largest exhibition for batteries and energy storage systems. Over 1,000 exhibitors have already registered for the two exhibitions, representing the first slight increase from the previous year after years of consolidation in the European solar industry. ees Europe in particular is scoring highly among exhibitors. After increasing fivefold in 2015, the exhibition space is expanding by a further 40% in size this year. And the other Intersolar and ees exhibitions from around the world are also enjoying positive growth figures. Indeed, internationality is one of the most important keys to the exhibitions’ success. In 2015, visitors flocked to Intersolar Europe from 165 countries, while exhibitors traveled from 42 nations.
International Intersolar and ees events are thriving
The US and Brazilian markets are already showing signs of strong growth. Intersolar South America, taking place in São Paulo, Brazil, from August 23–25, 2016, and ees North America, taking place in San Francisco, USA, from July 12–14, 2016, are each expected to grow by 50% respectively. The exhibitions benefit from favorable conditions in the international PV and storage system markets.
Record investments in solar energy and storage solutions
Despite falling oil and gas prices, 2015 was a record year for renewable energy, with China, Africa, the USA, Latin America and India in particular driving forward the global energy transition. A photovoltaics boom is forecast for the USA in particular – market research company GTM Research predicts that the market will increase by 119% this year compared with 2015. This would make the United States the second largest photovoltaics market in the world, after China. According to GMT Research, around 16 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics output is set to be installed in 2016, adding to the 7.3 GW installed in 2015. China recorded 15 GW growth in 2015, setting a new record level. Other important markets are establishing themselves, too – India with its ambitious expansion plans in particular. According to a report presented only recently by the Mercom Capital Group, an additional 4 GW of photovoltaics output is expected to be installed in India in 2016. The country plans to add 100 GW by 2022. The Latin American solar market is also picking up pace. GTM Research predicts that photovoltaic installations in the region will double in 2016 to reach 2.6 GW. The region’s flourishing markets are considered to be Chile, Honduras, Mexico and Brazil. Last but not least, the energy storage market is also on a very positive growth course. The USA is the clear frontrunner here – the country achieved growth of 243% in 2015, says GTM Research.
Emerging countries turn to renewable energy
This development is being fuelled in particular by further reductions in the costs of photovoltaics, which are due to solar power becoming increasingly competitive. What’s more, decades of research and a focus on technological developments and innovations have allowed many manufacturers to significantly improve the efficiency of their products. The resulting dynamism can be felt above all in a number of emerging and developing countries, where the focus has now turned to wind and solar power – the obvious choice considering that generating it is often considerably cheaper than purchasing electricity from the grid. Furthermore, renewable energy systems are quick to install, and decentralized at that, allowing them to be positioned exactly where the electricity demand is. In the long term, solar and wind power offer a greater degree of independence from future developments in fossil fuel prices.
Growth also recorded in Europe
While China, Japan and the USA dominated the photovoltaics markets in 2015, Europe was also able to reach an important expansion milestone. Total photovoltaics output in the region reached the 100 GW mark in 2015, according to industry association SolarPower Europe at its eleventh Solar Market Workshop. Last year also marked the first time the European photovoltaics market had grown in three years. SolarPower Europe predicts a comeback for photovoltaics in Europe and expects the market to stabilize at a slightly increased level in 2016. The solar association also believes that new installations could – realistically speaking – boast outputs far greater than 10 GW in the coming years. At a global level, total photovoltaics installations have surpassed the 300 GW mark.
Battery storage systems – catalysts for a new photovoltaics boom
Electrical energy storage systems have the potential to revolutionize the energy supply. As renewable energy sources like the sun are not always consistently available, it is essential that energy supply and demand are flexibly coordinated. In addition to integrated digital solutions, energy storage provides an answer to these challenges. In 2015, it was the USA that spearheaded this market. A total of 221 megawatts of energy storage systems were installed in the country last year – greater than the output installed in 2013 and 2014 combined – according to GTM Research in its recent report US Energy Storage Monitor 2015 Year in Review. The US storage market grew by 243% compared with 2014. A similar situation can be seen in Europe. Germany, for example, extended its renewable energy storage program at the start of the March. The German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) is therefore predicting a further strong increase in demand. The reason for this is that cost reductions have made domestic storage systems attractive options for many home owners. According to BSW-Solar, 35,000 solar storage systems have already been installed in Germany alone – a trend that is on the up. Industry representatives believe that the renewal of the photovoltaics renewable energy storage program is a good way of continuing to positively influence technological developments and of boosting economic benefits in the long term. All in all, the global prospects for Intersolar and ees are good, creating a positive outlook for the future.