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Global Solar Energy crosses 100 GW of Installed Capacity

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Solar Energy growth has exceeded the wildest predictions of fast growth and has managed to cross the 100 GW milestone. The oversupply of solar panels has led to a massive crash in the prices of solar energy. This has led to a huge spurt in demand growth due to elasticity. From being a niche energy source, solar energy has become a mainstream source of energy. We expect solar energy to soon beat wind energy installations growth in the next 2-3 years.

The main reason being solar energy continues to decline in price and it is possible to install solar on rooftops unlike the massive wind turbines. The skeptics of solar energy (like Fox News etc.) are increasingly looking moronic with their forecast that solar demand growth will decline due to removal of subsidies. While subsidies for solar will continue to be important, they will not be a deciding factor anymore as many regions are now on parity with solar electricity prices.

Read more about Pros and Cons of Renewable Energy on GWI.

The growth will also shift from Europe to Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America. India and China will be the prime movers of solar demand. While USA and Japan are becoming more important, the 2 Asian powers will contribute to more than 50% of the demand in the long run. If China meets its 10 GW target in 2013, it will have installed almost ~30% of the world’s new solar capacity.

Solar Energy growth has surpassed all projections and estimates. However media analysts still think the growth is not sustainable. My earlier article about why I think Solar Energy growth is being vastly underestimated by the analysts.

Solar Energy Future Growth Vastly Underestimated

As you can see Solar Energy Cost Curve is declining continuously. Solar Energy costs have decreased continuously over the past decades and continue to do so at even a faster pace with powerful global companies like TSMC, GE, Samsung, Hyundai, Siemens, Toshiba, AUO, Honda etc entering the field. Solar Energy can already compete with other forms of energy in high radiation, high electricity places like Italy. By 2015, expect Solar Energy to compete with Fossil Fuel Energy in most places on Earth. Solar prices decline of 10% annually in the  next few years are considered as a base case by large solar companies in their business models. Note I think PV and CPV Technology will beat Solar Thermal Technology in the future because of a variety of reasons.

Why Solar Energy is Being Underestimated

I am surprised by the extent that solar energy growth is being underestimated by analysts and policymakers. Solar Demand has exceeded forecasts by a wide margin in the last 3 years. While this is on a low base, you have to factor in that solar energy is still being subsidized. Think of the growth possibility when solar energy costs decline another 50%. While all countries have underestimated the penetration of Solar Energy,  I am taking the example of India which had been praised for its  ambitious plan of generating 22 GW by 2022. I think solar energy will easily be 3-4x of that capacity by that time as India has a huge potential  in solar energy. Bloomberg one of the most respected analysts in the Green Space has forecast 4.2% of US Energy Demand from Solar by 2020. This again is too low in my view. Once Solar Energy reaches low enough costs,then energy demand as a whole will expand just at the advent of LED lighting will expand the whole lighting market. The Potential of Solar Energy is not restricted to the Global Electricity Demand, it is much higher because it will expand that Capacity.


World solar power capacity passed the 100 gigawatt mark for the first time to 101 GW, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) said on Monday.

“This global capacity to harness the power of the sun produces as much electricity energy in a year as 16 coal power plants or nuclear reactors of one GW each,” the association said in a statement

An unprecedented 30 GW was added to the world grid in 2012 alone, EPIA added.

“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.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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