Solar PV manufacturing
While the sun provides an abundant source of energy, the electricity derived from solar sources is much less reliable than, say, power from nuclear fission. Nonetheless, solar power has come a long way over the last thirteen years and has experienced enormous growth between 2000 and 2013: Global cumulative installed solar PV capacity exceeded 136 gigawatts in 2013, up from less than 1.5 gigawatts in 2000. The leading markets in terms of cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity include Germany, Italy, China, the United States and Japan.
The process to convert solar radiation into direct current electricity requires the use of inverters and solar photovoltaic modules. Such modules consist of a number of solar cells which are usually made from semiconductor materials such as silicon. The most widely used materials to produce solar cells include multicrystalline (also called polycrystalline) silicon or monocrystalline (also called single-crystal) silicon. China, the United States and Germany are the most important solar cell manufacturing markets worldwide. Due to involvement of political leaders in these countries, the solar photovoltaic cell manufacturing industry has been faced with dramatic price shocks over the past decade. As a result of policy instruments such as punitive tariffs, subsidies and tax cuts, the prices of solar modules began to fall in 2002 and continued to do so through 2012. In Europe - the world’s largest market for solar photovoltaic cells and modules - PV module prices rose for the first time in 2013, after four difficult years in which a number of European companies were priced out of the market.