End-June figures herald a 6th consecutive record year for utility-scale solar, according to capacity data released today by Wiki-Solar. New plants totalling 10 GW have been commissioned so far in 2016, and an installed total of 100 GW might still be achievable by year-end.
Asia is continuing to move ahead and now accounts for almost half of global capacity, thanks to ongoing growth in China and India. Europe in particular has slowed; as its recent powerhouse, the UK, seems to be prioritising more expensive nuclear power over renewables. Africa and South America continue to progress, but need to eat faster into hefty project backlogs, if they are to increase their market share.
Cumulative utility-scale solar installations by continent
At the national level, it is the three countries, which topped the Rio Olympics medal table, that continue to lead. Wiki-Solar will be publishing a list of the top 20 countries shortly.
“It might look like a tall order to add a further 25 GW to reach 100 by year-end”, says Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe; “but I think we still have a fighting chance.”
“Firstly our figures are often understated, when first calculated, because not all sources have yet published their data.” This time last year, for example, Wiki-Solar indicated a half-year capacity of 45 GW, but it is now clear that the final level was over 50.
Secondly, because many contractors and developers work to complete projects before year-end, the second half of the year typically delivers more capacity. There is a substantial pipeline of projects in the US, in particular, still due for completion in 2016.
“We can be confident that this year will set another record by beating 2015’s total of 24 GW of new installations” says Wolfe. Does he think we can achieve the 37 needed to get to 100 GW?
“I wouldn’t bet against it!”
Source of data
All the details in these posts are based on the Wiki-Solar Database of some 5,500 utility-scale PV solar projects around the world. Unless otherwise stated, capacities are expressed in terms of the AC output of the plant, and ‘utility-scale’ is defined as projects of 4-MWAC and over.
About the author:
Philip Wolfe MBE 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 the early 2000’s. Since then he has undertaken more broadly-based roles in renewable and community energy. His book on utility-scale solar was published in 2012.
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