Solar PV overtakes wind in annual capacity additions, for first time

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BNEF predicts new additions of onshore and offshore wind energy capacity will be overtaken by new solar PV capacity for the first time in 2013.

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The year 2013 is set to become the first in which solar PV adds more megawatts of global energy capacity than wind, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

BNEF has predicted that 33.8GW of new onshore wind farms, plus 1.7GW of offshore wind, will be added globally in 2013, compared with its median forecast of 36.7GW of new PV capacity.

Last year, wind energy – onshore and offshore – added 46.6GW, while PV added 30.5GW – record figures in both cases, says the BNEF report.

This year, however, a slowdown in the world’s two largest wind markets, China and the US, is paving the way for the PV market to hit the lead. What’s more, after years of oversupply and consolidation, BNEF is predicting that technology suppliers in both sectors may see a move back to profit in 2013.

“Cost cuts and a refocusing on profitable markets and business segments have bolstered the financial performance of wind turbine makers and the surviving solar manufacturers,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF.

“Stock market investors have been noticing this change, and clean energy shares have rebounded by 66% since their lows of July 2012.”

For PV, BNEF’s head solar analyst Jenny Chase says the dramatic cost reductions, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are increasing the likelihood of further, strong growth in volumes.

And even the declining market of Europe, with its move away from incentives, is expected to continue to see new PV capacity added, Chase says.

For wind, BNEF is forecasting installations will shrink by nearly 25 per cent in 2013, to their lowest level since 2008, a shift that BNEF’s head of wind analysis, Justin Wu, says reflects slowdowns in the US and China caused by policy uncertainty.

“However, falling technology costs, new markets and the growth of the offshore industry will ensure wind remains a leading renewable energy technology,” says Wu.

But despite a change in rankings, onshore wind and PV will still contribute almost equally to the world’s new electricity capacity between now and 2030, says BNEF.

Wind (on and offshore) is expected to jump from 5 per cent of the world’s total installed generation capacity in 2012, to 17 per cent in 2030. While PV, is expected to grow from a 2 per cent share in 2012, to 16 per cent by 2030.

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1 Comment
  1. Name 6 years ago

    Good news solar beats wind on capacity (MW) reflecting its reducing costs and the flexibility to have small or large solar installations, while wind tends to not lend itself to the smaller end of the scale or have the virtually zero ongoing maintenance costs of solar. The scalability of solar and set up and forget are big attractions particularly for the urban dweller in Australia but seems this may also apply for the worldwide forecasts in the article.
    As solar has an annual load factor of about one half of that of well sited wind the next milestone will be more energy (MWh) coming from solar than from wind. Any bets on when that will happen??? 2020???
    Dave

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