Abu Dhabi—Maybe 2009 wasn’t so bad after all.

The total amount of installed solar power capacity grew by around ten percent in 2009, according to Rainer Gegenwart, CEO of thin film solar manufacturer Masdar PV in an interview. The total solar base of Germany, he added, grew from 1.5 gigawatts to 2.7 gigawatts last year, he added.

“The market development was much more positive than expected,” he said during an interview at the World Future Energy Summit taking place this week in Abu Dhabi. “Instead of having a market decrease we had a market increase in 2009. The solar market increased by about ten percent in 2009.”

Gegenwart says the figures only contemplated installed solar capacity and that the data comes from information Masdar PV has obtained from the German government and a German bank. Toward the end of last year, some solar analysts stated that the overall market declined. Those earlier figures, however, were based on factory shipments, not installations. Thus, both could be right. Still, Gegenwart’s comments and the new data will likely be seen as a sign that maybe last year wasn’t as bad as some predicted toward the end.

In any event, 2010 is looking good so far, at least for Masdar.

“We are looking positive in 2010,” he added. “I would say that the order intake (for Masdar) is more positive than expected.”

Studying current industry projections, Gegenwart said that the installed solar capacity will come to around 10 gigawatts in 2010 and grow to 24 gigawatts in 2012. 

“If they are right, the future is really bright for all of us. We expect the gap between supply and demand to close in 2011.”

Closing the gap in 2011 is something of a surprise at first glance, but plunging prices are driving demand, he added. Prices dropped to “significantly below 3 Euros a watt installed” in Europe on large, utility grid-connected projects.

Masdar PV is part of the Masdar Initiative, aimed at creating a clean energy economy in Abu Dhabi. It has a factory in Germany and started shipping panels in the fall of 2009. In the future it will build a factory here, just as soon as the governments in the region pass feed-in-tariffs and/or other incentive programs.

We will have more from our interview with Gegenwart in the near future, but we thought we give you some of the data.