Annual Solar Installs to Beat Wind for First Time

Solar power capacity installed around the world this year will beat wind for the first time driven by stronger policy support in key markets, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Photovoltaic plants will add about 36.7 gigawatts globally in 2013 and wind farms 35.5 gigawatts, or almost 25 percent less than last year, the research company said today in a statement. Solar capacity will rise about 20 percent from 2012.

“The dramatic cost reductions in photovoltaics, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes,” said Jenny Chase, BNEF’s head of solar analysis.

Lower panel costs and government support are accelerating deployment of solar energy even as growth slows in the mature European markets. Wind installations, more than double solar before 2011, are also being slowed by Europe, as well as a lack of clarity on policy in the U.S. and China.

Wind power installations will drop by almost a quarter this year to their lowest level since 2008 because of the policies in these two countries, according to Justin Wu, BNEF’s head of wind analysis. China and the U.S. combined represented about 60 percent of the global wind market last year.

Until 2030, both maturing technologies will contribute almost equally to the world’s new electricity capacity, the company forecast. It sees wind accounting for 17 percent of global power capacity in 2030 from 5 percent now and solar expanding to 16 percent from 2 percent.

Cumulative wind capacity was almost three times solar at the end of 2012, with 278,000 megawatts of turbines operating compared with about 104,000 megawatts of panels, BNEF data show.

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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