Despite a change of government, spiralling debt and a faltering credit rating, Italy seems set to become the global leader in deployment of photovoltaic energy generation systems. Figures compiled by IHS iSuppli suggest that the number of installations in the troubled EU member state during 2011 will equate to a 6,900 MWatt capacity – almost twice its annual total in 2010 and more than six times its total for 2009. This would see it outstrip previous solar power frontrunner Germany – which has totted up fewer annual installations during 2011 than it did in the previous year (5.923 MWatts compared with 6.900 MWatts). Italy currently has two of the world’s four largest photovoltaic power plants – Rovigo, near Padua, and Montaldo di Castro, just outside Rome. It has also just opened a new photovoltaic panel manufacturing facility in Catania, Sicily, which could produce 480 MWatts of panels per year when ramped up to full capacity.

According to Henning Wicht at IHS iSuppli, “The Italian government’s attractive incentives boosted the country’s installations massively, giving it the top position worldwide.” Although Germany continues to be a strong market, Wicht comments, “installations in the country stalled in the first half of 2011, and while the market recovered in the second half, the increase was insufficient to generate growth for the whole year.”

World’s Largest Deployment of Photovoltaic Capacity

Ranking Country 2011 (MWatts) 2010 (MWatts) % Change
1 Italy 6,900 3,577 93
2 Germany 5,923 7,408 -20
3 USA 2,703 915 196
4 China 1,726 537 221
5 Japan 1,300 990 31

[Source IHS iSuppli]

This data is backed up by a report recently published by IMS Research, which predicts 2011’s total installations should constitute over 24,000 MWatts (a 24% increase on the 19,000 MW witnessed in 2010). It also shows that a considerable gap is forming between the leading pack and other countries – with the top three players representing close to two thirds of the worldwide market.

Top Ten Photovoltaic Markets

Ranking Country Market Share (%)
1 Italy 27
2 Germany 25
3 USA 10
4 China 8
5 Japan 5
6 France 4
7 Australia 2
8 UK 2
9 India 2
10 Canada 2

[Source IMS Research]

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