Cumulative global installed solar PV capacity has topped the 100-gigawatt (GW) milestone, according to preliminary numbers from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Roughly 30 GW worldwide was connected to the grid in 2012, about the same as in 2011; there could be another 1-2 GW added to that 2012 total once final numbers come out in May.
Note these are defined as "systems connected to the grid" to emphasize the electricity-generation theme. Europe's 69 GW of total installed capacity is enough to produce roughly 2.6% of the region's electricity demand this year, and about 5.2% of peak electricity demand, according to the EPIA.
There's another important milestone in the EPIA's tally of solar PV. Countries outside of Europe connected 13 GW, up from 8 GW in 2011 and just 3 GW in 2010; at the same time Europe's PV installations fell from 23 GW in 2011 to 17 GW in 2012, its first decline since 2006.
The table below spells it out. Eight nations added at least a gigawatt of grid-connected capacity in 2012: Germany, China, Italy, the U.S., Japan, France, the U.K., and India. Thirteen nations (up from 8 in 2011) are in the gigawatt-club of cumulative solar installations: Germany, Italy, the U.S., China, Japan, Spain, France, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, the U.K., Greece, and India.
"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," stated EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann. Despite tough economic times and regulatory uncertainty, "the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology," he said. "The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source."
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