A new annual record for new utility-scale installations – almost 35 gigawatts – was set in 2016 according to figures released in March 2017 by Wiki-Solar.org. This took cumulative installations close to the 100 GW milestone.
North America up 129%, Europe down by over 50%
At the continental level, results were more patchy. North America was up 129% on 2015, thanks to a mammoth December in the USA, when almost 3 GW of new capacity was registered in just one month. Asia again accounted for about 2/3 of the new capacity with 57% growth, as India joins China amongst the top utility-scale markets. Europe, by contrast, was down by over 50% as its last major market, the UK, was hit by adverse government action. Africa and South America both grew by over 200%; Australasia stayed level, while promising more in the future.
“We thought we might just make the cumulative 100 GW milestone, when we saw the Chinese, American and Indian figures come in”, says Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe, “but in the end the global total finished the year just short, at 96 GW. So expect to break through the magic 100 GW milestone any day now – probably when this month’s figures are in.”
PV market in 2017 harder to predict
Wolfe believes we could be heading for yet another record year in 2017, but says it is getting harder to predict. “The pipeline still looks strong, especially in India and Chile, while Brazil and Australia should soon be delivering more new capacity. But the demise of the European market is disappointing, and we have to hope that the U.S. remains buoyant after the change of federal administration.”
These results are based on data published by the end of February 2017. Wiki-Solar notes that the figures tend to creep further upwards as later information is published, but does not expect the cumulative total to break 100 GW until 2017, because data for the three main markets of China, the USA and India is already in.