Germany has been the world's largest market for solar PV modules for quite a few years now. Even last year, it held on to that position, with a total installed capacity of around 8 GW, which accounted for about half of the total solar modules sold across the globe. In fact, the solar market of Germany made around three times as much profits as the one in Italy, which was at the second position. The feed-in tariffs in effect in the nation were even better than the ones offered by the Italian Government, which can easily be thought of as the main reason behind the astounding track record of the German solar industry.
However, since then, Germany has been able to install only about 40 million solar modules on a total land area of about 50 million square meters, across the nation. This is certainly a pretty significant slowdown, considering the rate that prevailed for about 5 years before last year.
Italy has shown an exact opposite trend since then. Within the first two quarters of 2011, Italian solar market grew to about three times the size of the German solar energy market. Not only that, Italy also managed to install more solar energy equipment across the nation than that of all 50 American states combined.
As of now, Germany is still the leading consumer of solar energy equipment across the globe, with a total installed capacity of 17 GW. However, that situation may soon change, as other European nations like Italy and Belgium continue to expand their solar module markets at rapid rates. Still, it will take a bit of time before any of these nations can beat Germany though. Estimates made as of now show that both these countries will need at least 2-3 more years to reach the position where Germany has been for the last 5 years.
What could be the reason for this sudden decentralization of solar power in Europe? Well, withdrawal of many support programs (like feed-in tariffs, for example) by the Government of Germany (by more than 12%) is certainly a direct reason, since it forces customers to shell out way more money than ever before to buy solar power modules
. However, another indirect but serious cause could be the steady reduction in the prices of solar energy modules, which is forcing many manufacturers to reduce the number of units they manufacture on a single day, just to ensure the earning of enough profits.
All in all, one thing is clear. The monetary benefits offered to customers of solar energy equipment will have to be continued, if Germany has to retain its position as the largest consumer of solar energy equipment in the world.