REUTERS - Global photovoltaic solar installations jumped 40 percent to a record 27.4 gigawatts, helped by a late surge of activity ahead of subsidy cuts, according to a report by consultancy NPD Solarbuzz issued on Monday.
Demand for photovoltaic solar power, which turns sunlight into electricity, has increased sharply in recent years, and a glut of new production, largely from China, sent prices for solar panels plummeting last year.
That sent shares in many of the world's leading manufacturers, such as Suntech Power Holdings STP.N, First Solar (FSLR.O) and Yingli Green Energy (YGE.N), down by more than half during the year as their profit margins shrank.
Solarbuzz said the global industry generated $93 billion in revenues last year, up 12 percent from the previous year, while the industry raised more than $8 billion in corporate equity and debt, Solarbuzz said.
European countries accounted for 18.7 GW, or 68 percent of world demand in 2011, led by Germany and Italy, according to the report.
But both those countries have trimmed their solar incentives, moves that analysts expect will curtail in the two countries that make up more than half the global market.
China's consumption of the panels jumped nearly five-fold in 2011, making the country the third-largest market, behind Germany and Italy and followed by the United States and France.
Reporting By Matt Daily