Earlier this year Europe hit an amazing milestone in solar, surpassing 100 gigawatts of installed solar power across its countries—becoming the first region to do so. It’s a harbinger of what’s likely to come in 2016 as more than 60 gigawatts of solar power will likely be brought online by the end of the year.
That’s according to SolarPower Europe’s new report "Global Market Outlook for Solar Power 2016-2020.” The report shows that by the end of 2015 an accumulative 229 gigawatts of solar power was online—with more than 50 gigawatts of solar power coming online in 2015 alone. That’s largely in line with other reports like the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which reported earlier in June that 227 gigawatts of solar was installed in 2015.
It’s just the beginning of the solar explosion, according to Oliver Schafer, president of SolarPower Europe. "Solar is booming and continues to break records in many parts of the world which gives us reasons to believe 700 gigawatts globally installed solar power is possible by 2020.”
In 2015 Europe also saw its solar installations grow to 8.2 gigawatts of new electric generation, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year. However, it is a short bump in the market there. "While this is the first upward trend since 2011, it is likely that demand on the European continent will slow down, primarily due to the termination of support for utility-scale solar in the UK,” said James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “What European solar needs now is the right electricity market design.”
"Solar power is increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels and distributed solar is cheaper than retail electricity in many countries. In 2016, solar also became cheaper than on-shore wind power in parts of the globe,” explained Michael Schmela, executive advisor of SolarPower Europe and lead author of the report.
The report found that at in 2015 China, Japan and the US led the world in new solar installations. China and Japan alone were responsible 50 percent of the solar that came online last year. The three countries are expected to lead the world in new solar power in 2016 as well with China being the dominant market. According to the report China installed a whopping 7 gigawatts of solar power in the first quarter of 2016.
Other analysts are also anticipating a record year for solar installations. For instance, in May GTM Research anticipated that more than 66 gigawatts of solar will come online across the world in 2016.Tweet