China emerging as utility-scale solar leader, Australia following… where??

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With the US on its tail, China maintains its lead in big solar capacity, adding 59 new plants in 2013 – or just over 1.5GW. Meanwhile, Australia is… where?

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China is clearly emerging as the world leader in utility-scale solar power capacity, after it became the first country to reach the 4GW milestone in the category in October.

According to the latest figures for projects of 10MW and over, published on Tuesday by market experts Wiki-Solar.org, China still leads the big solar race, having added 59 new plants in 2013, or just over 1.5GW.

The US is closing in fast, however, with over 1GW connected in the last six months alone. As you can see in the table below, Germany has also joined the exclusive 3GW club, followed by India and Spain, both with cumulative capacities just over 1GW.

As for Australia… well, you won’t see Australia on the table below, because it is currently languishing in 31st place, coming in just after the big solar powerhouse of, ahem, Reunion.

As it is, Australia currently boasts only one utility-scale project – the Greenough River solar farm in WA – that meets Wiki-Solar’s 10MW criteria, although four other projects are due to be built over the next two years. One, the 20MW Royalla project, reached financial close in August and will be the first to obtain bank finance in the country.

Two others are to be built in the ACT under that government’s solar auction program and the other, the 155MW AGL Energy project at Broken Hill and Nyngan, will begin construction next year.

As we noted last month, Wiki-Solar is thinking of adjusting the cut-off for “big solar” to 5MW, given how many projects in Germany and other countries are being built in that range.

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South Africa, meanwhile, makes its first appearance on the list, edging into 20th position after commissioning the Kalkbult solar power station in the Northern Cape. According to Wiki-Solar, the country is expected to continue its climb as the Droogfontein project, and others in round 1 of South Africa’s highly successful renewable energy tenders program, reach completion.

Conversely, the former dominant utility-scale players in Europe have quietened down, leaving eastern European countries the likes of Ukraine and Romania to take up the slack. And the UK has emerged as western Europe’s surprise leader for large-scale solar deployment in 2013, at 13th place with 117MW. It is followed by Japan, at 14, with 109MW.

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2 Comments
  1. Robert Johnston 6 years ago

    10+155+20+13+7 = 205MW, still out of the top 10, but at least we will be ahead of that hotbed of sunshine – the UK. Lets just hope the UK don’t put any more in because this calculation is what we expect to have by the end of 2015! What an embarrassment.

    • Marcus Hicks 6 years ago

      Well said, Robert. That one of the sunniest nations on Earth lags behind pretty much every developed-& even many developing-nations in utility scale solar energy is testament to the power of big oil/coal to hinder renewable energy development in this Country!

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