Worldwide solar power growth increased by an impressive 50% in 2016
Solar power had a very good 2016
Recent reports show that solar power had a very good year last year. Worldwide, installed solar power capacity grew by an amazing 50 percent in 2016, with a the largest growth occurring in the U.S. and China.
Global solar power growth leapt by 50% thanks to US and China
The amount of solar power added worldwide soared by some 50% last year because of a sun rush in the US and China, new figures show. — Writes Adam Vaughan for The Guardian.
New solar photovoltaic capacity installed in 2016 reached more than 76 gigawatts, a dramatic increase on the 50GW installed the year before. China and the US led the surge, with both countries almost doubling the amount of solar they added in 2015, according to data compiled by Europe’s solar power trade body.
Globally there is now 305GW of solar power capacity, up from around 50GW in 2010 and virtually nothing at the turn of the millennium.
The industry called the growth “very significant” and said the technology was a crucial way for the world to meet its climate change commitments.
James Watson, the chief executive of SolarPower Europe, said: “In order to meet the Paris [climate agreement] targets, it would be important if solar could continue its rapid growth. The global solar industry is ready to do that, and can even speed up.”
Across Europe, the total amount of solar power passed the symbolic milestone of 100GW in early 2016 and now stands at 104GW. However, slowing growth in Europe prompted the solar industry to call for the EU to set more ambitious renewable energy targets.
“We need to build a major industrial project around solar and renewables. To start with, increasing the 2030 renewable energy target to at least 35% [up from 27%] will send a strong signal that Europe is back in the solar business,” said Alexandre Roesch, policy director at SolarPower Europe.
European solar companies have also been urging the European commission to rethink the anti-dumping tariffs it imposed on Chinese solar panels in 2013. The commission is looking to extend the tariffs by 18 months, shorter than previously planned, after opposition to them from member states.
Nearly half of the solar installed last year was in China, with Asia as a whole making up two-thirds of new capacity in 2016.
Solar is still a relative minnow in the electricity mix of most countries, the figures show. Even where the technology has been embraced most enthusiastically, such as in Europe, solar on average provides 4% of electricity demand.
Check out the infographic below, outlining The 4 Reasons Behind The Rise of Renewables.
The four main reasons behind the rise in renewables:
Fossil fuels are derivatives of plants and animals that have been fossilised. They make up three major fuel sources: oil, coal and natural gas. These three fuel sources are primary sources used to meet electricity and energy demands of the world. They are non-renewable, thus will eventually be depleted. Fossil fuels are mined and sold on the global commodity market and have been subject to worldwide price fluctuations since the 1960’s. Fossil fuels are usually highly priced to benefit oil producing nations. Evidently, we have recently seen such fluctuations as oil prices fell in the summer of 2014 but are now slowly recovering. The increasing demand worldwide for renewable forms of energy challenges the dominance fossil fuels have in the world.
The four main reasons behind the rise in renewables:
- As the world dynamics related to renewable energy are changing, there is an increased shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy as more countries are capitalizing on the benefits and energy potential renewables have and both developing and developed countries are investing more in renewable energy.
- With increasing technological advancements, renewable energies are having a significant impact. More economies are finding efficient and creative new ways of producing and storing renewable energy to meet the rising energy demand of the world.
- As investments in renewable energy are rising, there is an improvement in the economics of renewables. Renewables are getting cheaper than oil as oil prices have already begun to increase in 2016. This increases the competitive nature renewables bring to the table, challenging the position of fossil fuel derivatives. With many renewables subsidizing schemes set in place, there is also an increased advantage over fossil fuels.
- The link between oil and renewable energy markets is weakening as renewables are mainly used in the production of electricity whilst oil is used for transportation, from cars to planes. Even though the gas market is sometimes linked to the oil market, gas is relatively cheaper and complements renewables as a backup source of energy since renewables depend on the weather (wind and sun availability, etc).
Finally, the changes in fossil fuels and renewables are something to think of for the future as we are slowly running out of fossil fuels. Renewables are on the rise and surely will overtake the position fossil fuels have now.
Top 10 countries in 2016 based on total photovoltaic (PV) installed capacity in megawatts (MW)
- China: 78,100 MW (25.8%)
- Japan: 42,800 MW (14.1%)
- Germany: 41,200 MW (13.6%)
- United States: 40,300 MW (13.3%)
- Italy: 19,300 MW (6.4%)
- United Kingdom: 11,600 MW (3.8%)
- India: 9,000 MW (3.0%)
- France: 7,100 MW (2.3%)
- Australia: 5,900 MW (1.9%)
- Spain: 5,500 MW (1.8%)
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