Renewables are still powering along globally, even in the face of flip-flops on support and other financial, political and regulatory challenges in some nations.
According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), the world’s cumulative solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity capacity eclipsed 100 gigawatts by the end of last year. This will generate as much electricity as sixteen 1GW coal power plants or nuclear reactors and avoid 53 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
An estimated 30 GW of solar panels were connected to the grid globally in 2012; around the same level as 2011.
“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,” said EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann. “Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011.”
Wind power also had an impressive year according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC); with 44.7 GW capacity installed.
The USA and China tied for the top spot in 2012 with approximately 13GW new capacity each. A rush in the USA due to the anticipated expiration of its Production Tax Credit at the end of December resulted in more than 8,000 MW installed in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Last year also saw sub-Saharan Africa’s first large commercial wind farm, a 52 MW project in Ethiopia. With construction having commenced on 500+ MW of wind power capacity in South Africa, the GWEC expects Africa to be a substantial new market.
According to the GWEC’s Global Wind Statistics 2012 report (PDF), Australia saw 358 MW of new wind power capacity added in 2012; for a cumulative total of 2,584 MW.