Global PV milestone achieved

There is now an all-time high of 300 gigawatts of total installed solar power capacity worldwide. Low prices are fuelling the photovoltaic boom.

The German Solar Association in Berlin announced a new milestone in the global solar power success story: there is now 300 gigawatts (GWp) of total installed solar capacity around the world.

Based on their own calculations, they found there was a global deployment of solar power systems with an additional capacity of around 70 GWp. This corresponds to a jump of around 30 per cent in new deployment over 2015.

The PV systems installed in 2016 generate around 90 terawatt hours of solar energy, enough to supply 25 million additional households with an annual electricity consumption of 3,500 kWh.

“The utilization of solar power has really picked up momentum in many countries around the world. As the global thirst for energy increases, more and more governments and investors are committing to clean forms of energy,” said Carsten Körnig, CEO of the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar).

As an example, China’s energy authorities stopped the construction of around 100 coal-fired power plants in 2016, choosing PV systems instead. It’s now the largest business market for solar power, followed by the US and Japan. A strong PV market is also developing in India.

“The decision for solar power has long been based on more than environmental concerns alone. Economic considerations are increasingly the primary motivation for making the decision to invest in PV,” added Körnig.

The enormous climate impact costs of coal-fired plants will inevitably be priced into the overall economic equation, increasing the risks of stranded investments in unprofitable plants. Solar power, on the other hand, now provides an extremely low-cost alternative.

The World Economic Forum recently found that PV technology is already so inexpensive in over 30 countries around the world that it can be operated profitably without financial support.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems arrived at a similar conclusion in 2015 when it predicted that solar energy will soon be the most inexpensive source of energy in many parts of the world.


Image credit: Intel Free Press, flickr/Creative Commons

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