Governments in Europe, and in particular Germany and Spain, have passed legislation to promote solar power. Consequently, the photovoltaic (PV) markets in Germany and Spain are 49% of the 13% of the global market respectively. In 2007, the German PV industry was worth €5.7 billion. Measures include:
- Feed in tariffs
- Compulsory minimum purchase of green power by electricity suppliers
- Compulsory domestic solar hot water for new or renovated homes
- Mandatory installation of photovoltaic panels at shopping centres, industrial buildings, government buildings, hotels, and hospitals.
These measures seem to be paying off because the cost of solar electricity is expected to cost the same as electricity generated by traditional means (“Grid parity”) between 2010 and 2020, depending on the amount of sunlight any particular country receives. Read more here.
Recently, however, it was reported that in 2008 Spain installed a massive 3GW+ of PV, more than that of Germany in the same period. Much of the PV cells were manufactured in China.
From a patenting perspective, it is important that patent applications covering new photovoltaic related inventions are filled in at least these two big markets to protect sales, as well as China where their manufacture is greatest. Filing in China may allow a patentee to stop the manufacture of infringing articles that are then imported into other markets, stopping infringement at its source, thus helping to protect other markets that may import from China.