World solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations reached a record high of 5.95 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, representing growth of 110% over the previous year, according to a SolarBuzz report.
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 number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, closely followed by Italy and Japan.
In the assessment of PV demand in 2008, 81 countries contributed to the 5.95GW world market total.
On the supply side, world solar cell production reached a consolidated* figure of 6.85 GW in 2008, up from 3.44 GW a year earlier. Overall capacity utilization rose to 67% in 2008 from 64% a year earlier.
Meanwhile, thin film production also recorded solid growth, up 123% in 2008 to reach 0.89 GW.
China and Taiwan continued to increase their share of global solar cell production, rising to 44% in 2008 from 35% in 2007.
Polysilicon supply to the solar industry grew by 127% in megawatt terms, sufficient to substantially ease supply limitations in 2008. United States polysilicon production accounted for 43% of the world's supplies. Average global wafering capacity grew to 8.30 GW (up 81%).
In dollar terms, the weighted 2008 average global factory gate crystalline module price increased by a modest 3% over 2007, notwithstanding the significant fall in fourth quarter 2008. Preliminary first quarter 2009 data shows a decrease of up to 24% (manufacturer dependent) compared to the 2008 global weighted average. Meanwhile, the new report quantifies the global inventory build during first quarter 2009.
The PV industry generated $37.1 billion in global revenues in 2008, while successfully raising over $12.5bn in equity and debt, up 11% on the prior year.