Figures released on Friday by utility solar analysts Wiki-Solar.org show that global capacity of utility-scale PV generating capacity at the end of 2014 reached 35.9GW.
The data shows that new plant commissioned during the year totalled 14.2 GW, almost doubling the record of 7.4 GW set the previous year – and equal to the entire installed capacity up to the end of 2012.
Worldwide utility-scale photovoltaic power generation is now fairly evenly split between the three leading continents; Asia, Europe and North America. 2014 is the first year when Africa and South America started to show meaningful contributions.
But where is Australia?
As you can see in the charts above, every continent increased its volume compared to 2013 – except Australia, which rates zeros on new annual capacity and cumulative operating capacity. (Actually, on cumulative capacity it would rate at 30MW – the Royalla and Greenough River solar plants – but that is 0.03GW, and Wiki-Solar only goes one decimal point).
“Even Europe returned to growth, after declines in 2012 and 2013,” said Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe.
“Performance at the national level is however more variable. Europe’s resurgence – after the 2012 policy changes in the traditional powerhouse of Germany – has been fuelled mainly by a buoyant British market.”
Wiki-Solar predicts that the UK will this month leapfrog India, and maybe even Germany, to become the world’s third or fourth largest market; driven by a flood of projects racing to beat legislative changes. The country then risks following other European markets into a period of stagnation.
Meanwhile Germany is trialling a new approach to utility-scale solar, which may see growth re-starting in coming years.
“Only the US, China and India can claim consistent longer-term growth”, says Wolfe; though he believes that the drivers in countries like Chile, Japan and Canada look relatively stable.
“I am hoping they too will become sustainable markets for the industry.”
According to Wiki-Solar, the installed capacity of utility-scale power plants in the leading countries at the end of 2014 was:
Wiki-Solar expects to see all of these countries, apart from Ukraine, in the ‘gigawatt plus club’ by the end of 2015. Australia ranked in the 30s.