In the lead up to April 1 the UK solar industry continued to install at top speed, with more than 32MW completed between March 25 and April 1. This increased capacity has pushed the market well beyond the 1GW mark and now, leading research analysts are predicting that global solar PV installations will grow by at least 3.5 percent and up to 21 percent in 2012 – despite feed-in tariff (FiT) cuts across the board.

IMS Research, which was recently acquired by IHS, forecasts that despite FiT cuts in most of the world’s largest solar markets, global installations will grow from 26.9GW in 2011 to between 27.8GW and 32.6GW in 2012.

Ash Sharma, Senior Research Director for Photovoltaics, explained, “Despite many in the industry still expecting further doom and gloom, we in fact see a pick-up in demand driven by falling system prices, a rush to  beat incentive cuts, and the growing number of mid-sized emerging PV markets.”

“It is no longer a case of whether the PV market will grow in 2012, the real question now is by how much will it grow,” Sharma continued. “When you only consider a handful of countries like Germany, Italy and France, it’s easy to be pessimistic about demand; however, when you look further afield and analyse demand from 60 countries, the picture becomes much more positive.”

According to IMS Research’s Q1’12 report, which looks at data from 60 locations, at least 23 countries will install 100MW or more this year, up from just 17 in 2011.

“It is this geographic diversification that will help drive growth in global PV installations this year as the market becomes less dependent on just one or two markets. Ultimately it will also lead to stability for the industry in the longer term as the impact of a single country’s policy will weaken,” concluded Sharma.