An estimate from the German Solar Association (BSW-Solar) puts current global installed solar power capacity at approximately 300 gigawatts.
Last year, around 70 gigawatts was installed across the planet says the Association, representing an increase of around 30 percent on 2015.
This new capacity would be able supply 25 million additional households it states; assuming an annual electricity consumption of 3,500 kilowatt hours.*
As the solar revolution continues, uptake has increasingly become more about economics; with positive environmental outcomes as a side effect.
“Economic considerations are increasingly the primary motivation for making the decision to invest in PV,” said Carsten Körnig, Chief Executive Officer of BSW-Solar.
“The risk of stranded investments in unprofitable coal-fired power plants is increasing, because in the future their enormous climate impact costs will inevitably be priced in to the overall economic equation. Meanwhile, solar power already provides an extremely low-cost alternative.”
The example of China was noted, where construction of around 100 coal-fired power plants with a nominal capacity of over 100 gigawatts has been stopped, and installation of solar power accelerated.
The Association says China is largest business market for PV, followed by the United States with around 13 gigawatts and Japan with around 9 gigawatts. India expects to install 8 to 9 gigawatts during 2017.
As for Germany itself, Fraunhofer ISE stated in a recent report (PDF) that the country installed 1.2 GW of new solar panel capacity last year. It’s estimated 38.3 TWh of PV-generated electricity was produced 2016, covering approximately 7.4 percent of the nation’s net electricity consumption. During weekends and holidays, solar PV can supply up to 50 percent of Germany’s electricity requirements.
At the end of 2016, a total of 41GW of solar capacity was in place in Germany, distributed over 1.5 million power plants.
Overall, renewables accounted for 37 percent of net electricity consumption in Germany last year.
* Editor’s note: According to a ACIL Allen report (p.25) to the Australian Energy Regulator in 2015, the average annual household electricity consumption in Australia (2014 – excluding WA and NT) was 5,817kWh