The world's cumulative solar photovoltaic electricity capacity surpassed 100 GW last year, reaching just over 101 GW, according to new market figures from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
According to EPIA, the surpassing of the 100 GW mark occurred in yet another year of strong global PV development, with an estimated 30 GW connected to the grid and made operational in 2012. This is roughly the same total as in 2011.
These results are preliminary; the 30 GW figure could be increased by an additional 1 GW or 2 GW when final numbers come in, EPIA notes. The final results are scheduled to be published in May.
‘No one would have predicted even 10 years ago that we would see more than 100 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity in the world by 2012,’ says Winfried Hoffman, president of EPIA. ‘The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges, but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011.’
However, the year also showed an important shift towards a more global PV market, with 13 GW of PV installations occurring outside of Europe (compared to just under 8 GW in 2011) and approximately 17 GW in Europe (compared to nearly 23 GW in 2011).
According to the report, the top three European PV markets in 2012 were Germany (with 7.6 GW), Italy (3.3 GW) and France (1.2 GW). The top three non-European markets were China (with at least 3.5 GW and possibly as much as 4.5 GW), the U.S. (3.2 GW) and Japan (2.5 GW).
"The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source," Hoffman says.