Despite cuts in subsidy levels, Germany will install a record 8 gigawatts of photovoltaics in 2012, according to Germany's trade chamber, the DIHK. That's up slightly from the 7.5 gigawatts installed in 2011. The timing of subsidy cuts was postponed amidst recent employment-oriented protests in Germany. Subsidy cuts will now begin in April and May. Not every analyst agrees with the DIHK projection, urging a wait-and-see approach concerning the FIT regime.
Dr. Peng Fang, the CEO of vertically integrated solar giant JA Solar Holdings (Nasdaq:JASO), said that China installed approximately 2 gigawatts of PV in 2011 and could see anywhere from 4 gigawatts to 8 gigawatts installed in China in 2012. Consistent with that estimate, Suntech CEO Zhengrong Shi said China could install as much as 5 gigawatts this year during an analyst conference call, as per Bloomberg. One more data point from China: The China Securities Journal quoted Liu Tienan, head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), as saying that China is looking to develop solar photovoltaic projects with a "total installed capacity of 3 gigawatts in 2012." 

The United States finished 2011 with over 1.8 gigawatts of PV installed, according to GTM Research Managing Director Shayle Kann. In a sneak peak at 2012 forecasts to be revealed later this week, Kann and his team expect U.S. solar installations to approach 3 gigawatts in 2012.

Add Italy, Japan, and the Rest of the World to the total -- and in the face of headwinds on a number of fronts, this has a chance of being a small growth or flat year for the photovoltaic market. This doesn't suggest that things are rosy on the manufacturing or profitability side -- but demand for solar has not subsided.