As of 2010, there were 1,327 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity globally and more than 18 gigawatts (GW) of concentrated solar thermal projects in development.

Solar energy becomes the second fastest growing renewable energy market after wind power. Over the last 50 years, solar photovoltaic (PV) has evolved into a mature, sustainable and adaptive technology, which is rapidly gaining acceptance as a cost effective and clean alternative to conventional energy sources. PV technology’s rising popularity partly stems from the increasing efficiency of its solar cells and partly from the improved aesthetics of its modules.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan’s Global Solar Power Market research finds that the global solar power market had 1,327 megawatts (MW) of total installed concentrated solar power (CSP) capacity and 39,611 MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2010. The total installed Concentrating Solar Power capacity is projected to reach 15,554 MW by the end of 2017, while the total installed PV capacity is expected to reach 188,461 MW.

The solar PV technology has the solid backing of the federal government and various state governments, which have instituted numerous renewable energy policies and programs, incentives and mandates.

“In the United States, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPSs) and the economic stimulus package provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a major diver for the solar power market,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Georgina Benedetti. “Similarly, in Europe, governments have passed several renewable energy laws and incentives such as feed-in tariffs for solar PV-generated power in countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Portugal to support the growing renewable energy industry both financially and technologically.”

Although PV is riding a popularity wave, its module prices experienced a sharp decline in 2009 and 2010 due to an increase in manufacturing capacity and higher silicon supply. Further, the emergence of Chinese PV cell manufacturers that can produce cells at much lower costs placed considerable pressure on American and European manufacturers to lower their prices. To save their margins, European and American companies have to produce high-quality and highly efficient solar panels.

The governments in the West are showing an urgency to increase the domestic supply of energy to reduce their dependence on imports. This rising need for energy security translates to greater opportunities for solar power companies.

Countries’ commitment to reduce carbon emissions by boosting the percentage of renewable energy in the energy mix has given a boost to the solar energy markets all over the world.

“When backed up by thermal storage facilities and combustible fuel, a solar power plant offers utilities electricity that can be dispatched when required, enabling it to be used for base, shoulder, and peak loads,” notes Benedetti. “For off-grid applications, solar energy can provide cost-competitive, reliable, and clean electricity to remote homes and villages.”

As of 2010, there were 1,327 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity globally and more than 18 gigawatts (GW) of concentrated solar thermal projects in development. PV installation experienced tremendous growth during the last three years, reaching 39,611 MW in 2010.

Global Solar Power Market is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: North American Residential Solar Power Market, North American Non Residential Solar Power Market, Global Wind Power Markets, Asia Pacific Solar PV Systems Market Outlook, and Electric Drives Market in the Solar Power Industry. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.