Global Solar Capacity Tops 100 Gigawatts on Asian Markets

Global solar-power capacity rose to at least 101 gigawatts last year as growth in China, the U.S. and Japan outstripped some markets in Europe.

About 30 to 32 gigawatts were completed worldwide, compared with almost 30 gigawatts in 2011, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association said today in an e-mailed statement. Solar photovoltaic plants can now generate as much electricity as about 16 mid-sized nuclear power stations, the lobby group said.

Governments from India to Chile are promoting sun-based power to satisfy growing energy demand while meeting emission targets. Global installations expanded last year after an equipment glut drove down solar-panel prices, even as European markets slowed following a reduction in state subsidies.

“No one would have predicted even 10 years ago that we would see more than 100 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity in the world by 2012,” EPIA President Winfred Hoffman said in the statement. “The industry clearly faces challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market.”

Countries outside Europe added more than 13 gigawatts of solar capacity last year, compared with less than 8 gigawatts in 2011, driven by China, the U.S. and Japan, the data show. Germany, home to a third of the world’s solar panels, remained the biggest market after adding 7.6 gigawatts, while Europe as a whole installed 17 gigawatts, down from 23 gigawatts.

Global Wind Energy Council data show that wind-power growth also accelerated last year, with capacity reaching 282.5 gigawatts worldwide after 44.7 gigawatts were completed in the period.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marc Roca in London at mroca6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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