After growing 19% in 2006 and 62% in 2007, world solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations exploded by 110% last year to a staggering 5.95 GW, according to Solarbuzz’s Annual Report, Marketbuzz 2009:
Europe accounted for 82% of world demand in 2008. Spain’s 285% growth pushed Germany into second place in the market ranking, while the US advanced to [a very distant] number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, closely followed by Italy and Japan.
And who is the leading producer of PV cells?
China and Taiwan continued to increase their share of global solar cell production, rising to 44% in 2008 from 35% in 2007.
Yes, the United States created the solar cell industry and literally launched it into space 50 years ago. And, yes, solar PV is going to be one of the largest job-creating industries of the century, projected to grow “from a $20 billion industry in 2007 to $74 billion by 2017.”
And, yes, today America has precisely zero of the top ten PV plants (down from 1 last year), with our market share having plummeted in the past decade, as the figure below makes all too painfully clear: