OVERVIEW - Four more countries reach 1 GW of utility-scale solar

The top 10 countries for utility-scale solar: cumulative and new capacity. SeeNews Renewables. All rights reserved.

Now that utility-scale solar is an over USD-100-billion sector, SeeNews Renewables has engaged Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe to provide regular updates and comments. This month’s round-up of developments in utility-scale solar generation sees the last four top-10 countries break through the GW barrier and several new records set.


May 26 (SeeNews) - The US became the first country to reach 10 GW alternating current (AC) of utility-scale solar capacity earlier this year and now Canada, Chile, France and Japan have all joined the 1-GW club.

As projected last month, the UK has leapt to the number-three position, by increasing its total utility-scale capacity by over 50% in the first quarter. Growth is now expected to slow however, as solar projects over 5 MW become ineligible for the Renewables Obligation incentive mechanism.

Chile and Japan have leap-frogged South Africa, with the latter going out of the top 10 ranking.

# Country Cumulative
New capacity
in 2015
1 USA 10.15 GW 1.05 GW
2 China 8.88 GW 0.30 GW
3 UK 3.60 GW 1.32 GW
4 Germany 3.59 GW 0.01 GW
5 India 2.71 GW 0.40 GW
6 Spain 1.54 GW 0.00 GW
7 Canada 1.20 GW 0.21 GW
8 Chile 1.11 GW 0.33 GW
9 France 1.03 GW 0.07 GW
10 Japan 1.02 GW 0.36 GW


As we await the completion of the 579-MW Solar Star complex -- to become the world’s largest project -- new records are being set in other parts of the world. For one, Pakistan’s largest installation, the 100-MWp Jinnah plant, was connected in February. It is part of the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park, which is due to reach an eventual capacity of 1 GWp.

The 15-MWp first phase of the 90-MWp Souk-Ahras project started commissioning in April, making it Algeria’s biggest solar generating station.

The 46.8-MW Halutziot project in western Israel becomes the largest in the Middle East, and its horizontal single-axis trackers are starting to appear on satellite mapping.

Guatemala’s 50-MWp Horus I is now the most powerful plant in Central America.


The United Arab Emirates, like Pakistan, has a 1-GW project in progress. The developers, ACWA Power and TSK, recently doubled the size of the impending second phase to 200 MW. The 10-MW phase I was completed in 2013.

Australia has been further ‘behind the curve’ in the deployment of large-scale solar than its sunny climate and open spaces seem to merit, but has started work on several large plants. The last panel has now been installed by First Solar on the 102-MW Nyngan plant, so this should be commissioned in the next quarter.

Sempra Energy and Consolidated Edison’s 250-MW Copper Mountain 3 solar plant was officially inaugurated on May 1 in the Nevada desert south of Las Vegas.

The US Virgin Islands commissioned their first utility-scale project near Saint Thomas in February.

South Africa has announced the six successful projects in Round 4 of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), with a total capacity of 426 MW.

The first utility-scale solar projects to be announced in the Russian Federation total 44 MWp in the Bashkortostan region.

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Philip Wolfe has been in renewables since the 1970’s when he was founder Chief Executive of BP Solar. He led companies in the PV sector until appointed Director General of the Renewable Energy Association from 2003 to 2009. His book on utility-scale solar was published in 2012.

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