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Market trend

For almost a decade, growth in the renewable energy industry looked unstoppable. Over the last 10 years, 430,000 MW of renewable energy capacity have been installed, with total global investments reaching a record of $ 257 billion in 2011, a year in which renewable energy became a trillion-dollar industry. However, the economic crisis in 2008/2009 and its continuing repercussions have slowed growth and dampened demand. In late 2011, the crisis affecting the euro area and its sovereign debt had an impact on the supply of debt for renewable energy projects in Europe. While the cost of the technology was falling rapidly due to increased competition, governments were not able to adjust feedin tariff subsidies for solar power quickly enough to face the rapid reductions. These cost reductions, which were not adequately countered by a corresponding decrease in feed-in tariffs, gave rise to a distortion of the market, where the margin returns for PV project developers were considerably higher than intended, generating a boom in installation, especially in Italy and Germany, where more than 7GW were installed in 2011. Inevitably, governments in Europe and elsewhere have responded by cutting subsidies sharply. However, while it may be true that competitive pressures, especially in the solar PV and wind markets, have driven down prices and cut margins to the point where several manufacturers are struggling to survive, the fall in prices also yielded some positive consequences. Prices for solar PV fell more than 60% between 2010 and 2012, and wind turbine prices have also decreased substantially. Cost reductions in the last two years have deeply changed the renewable energy scenario, especially in wind and solar PV sector. Overall, PV module prices at the beginning of 2012 were nearly 50% lower than the year–earlier level, and some 76% below their level in the summer of 2008, falling another 24% over the course of 2012. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in 2011, turbine prices for delivery scheduled in the second half of 2013 were averaging around EUR 910K per MW, (as opposed to $1.265** K per MW at the average euro/dollar exchange rate last year). Compared to a peak of EUR 1.210K per MW for devices delivered in the first half of 2009, there has been a price reduction of 25%. The improving technology and the significant cost savings have made some technologies already competitive in several regions and the Promised Land where grid parity will be a reality seems just around the corner. Although global investment in clean energy declined 11% in 2012, accounting for $268.7bn, down from a revised figure of $302.3bn in 2011, 2012 was still the second highest ever in terms of global investment in the sector. The decline was due to regulatory uncertainty and policy changes in big markets such as Spain, Italy, USA and India. At a European level, Italian investment experienced a 51% decline (totaling $14.7bn) due to policy changes that curbed the country solar PV boom. Spain also showed a 68% decrease (totaling just t $3bn) following the Spanish government’s moratorium on subsidies for projects not yet approved. 2012 also marked a new and significant market trend : investments are broadening rapidly from the established European, American and Chinese markets to the new ones, mostly in developing countries, such as Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia but also Australia. The shift from developed to developing countries is combined with the emergence of a new business model that is no longer based on the feed-in tariffs mechanism, but rather on public auction systems.