With 603 MW(peak) installed, Germany remained the leading photovoltaic market in the world in 2005, positioned far ahead of Japan and the USA. This is one of the conclusions published in the Photovoltaic Energy Barometer report of EurObserv'ER in April 2006. Germany's success inspired both Spain and Italy, which set up conditions in order to rapidly develop their PV sectors.

In 2005 nearly 645 MWp of solar cells were installed in the EU versus 546 MWp in 2004, a growth of 18.2%. According to the report, this growth could have been even greater if the market had not been ‘continually curbed by a lack of raw materials’.

Total installed PV capacity is now established in the vicinity of 1800 MWp (table 2), which corresponds to the electrical needs of around 600,000 households (with the assumption that each household has an average annual consumption of 3,000 kWh per year, excluding electrical heating).

According to the report, the prospects for PV market growth are still as good as ever. Silicon producers (especially in America and Germany) have finally responded to the PV industry’s expectations by announcing new production capacities. These extensions have reassured the PV industry, which answered by heavily investing in new production capacities that are in line with an ever bigger demand. Nevertheless, this increase in demand remains dependent on the political will to develop this market at the national level.

The European Best Practice Report, published by the PV Policy Group, draws key conclusions (key success factors, barriers and general lessons learnt) from the analysis and comparison of twelve national policy frameworks.

One of the conclusions is that the groundwork for success is a consistent PV strategy based on ambitious and long-term targets, a clearly defined implementation programme and a well-conceived mix of instruments. Simultaneously, politicians must ensure commitment of relevant authorities at the federal, regional and local levels as key actors in implementing strategies and programmes.

Furthermore, the basic requirement for each PV policy framework is its longevity and stability. Only under secure conditions will customers and industry be willing to invest in PV. Sustainable promotion strategies for PV should be independent of the usual budgetary constraints of subsidy schemes.

The report says that the German Rooftop Programme (HTRP) would certainly have failed in absence of the parallel introduction of the EEG (German renewable energy feed-in law).