The Surging Installations Drove Added Global Solar Capacity to 98.9GW in 2017

2018-03-26 11:32
Newly added solar generation capacity Global for the whole 2017 came to 98.9GW, representing an annual increase of 29%, according to a presentation made by SolarPower Europe at the SolarPower Summit (held during 14-15 March in Brussels). The installations of PV systems continue to grow, with China and India accounting for more than 63% of the global solar demand in 2017.

Michael Schmela, head of market intelligence at SolarPower Europe, pointed out that many industry analysts initially expected sluggish demand through 2017 following the 50% annual growth in installations in 2016. Nevertheless, the data from SolarPower Europe shows continuous and rapid expansion for the global solar market. Schmela added that “the solar revolution is unstoppable.”

The Surging Installations Drove Added Global Solar Capacity  to 98.9GW in 2017

China in the recent years has been the leading country in terms of capacity growth for solar generation. SolarPower finds that China’s newly added capacity in 2017 totaled 52.8GW, a huge increase of 53% from 34.54GW in 2016. China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) earlier announced that the newly installed solar capacity came to 24.4GW during the first half of 2017. NEA furthermore stated that China’s cumulative installed solar capacity reached 130.25GW by the end of 2017 and represented 7.3% of the country’s total electricity production.

The US took second place in the country ranking of newly installed capacity for 2017 with 11.8GW. However, this figure actually translates to a significant annual decline of 20%. India surpassed Japan as the third largest solar market in the 2017 ranking. SolarPower Europe reported that India’s newly installed capacity soared by 140% year on year to 9.6GW in 2017.

Growth in the European market is being stifled by trade barriers

With respect to Europe, the presentation by SolarPower Europe revealed that the newly installed capacity for this regional market went up by 28% year on year to reach a total of 8.61GW in 2017. Turkey, which the trade association includes as a part of the European market, recorded a massive annual increase of 213% in its newly installed capacity for 2017, totaling 1.79GW. Christian Westermeier, president of SolarPower Europe, said he was happy to see the European market returning to growth. However, he also noted that the EU needs to step up its efforts in promoting solar energy in order to catch up to the average Global growth. Westermeier recommended the EU to raise its renewable generation target to 35% (of the total regional generation capacity).

Excluding Turkey, the 28 EU member states posted just a 6% annual growth in their newly installed capacity, from 5.69GW in 2016 to 6.03GW in 2017. The newly installed capacity of the UK fell sharply by 54% year on year in 2017 as the country reduced its solar subsidies. SolarPower Europe reported that the UK’s newly installed capacity came to only 912MW for the entire 2017, much less compared with the 4.1GW figure for 2015. The UK market for now appears to be contracting on a yearly basis.

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, noted that while solar demand is on an upswing globally, the European market is “at risk of being left behind.” To ensure that Europe has strong presence in the global solar market, Watson contended that the governing body of the EU has to remove trade barriers while developing policies that spur installations. Watson added that promoting solar is also good for local development. A solar industry report published by Ernest & Young Global Ltd. (EY) in November 2017 estimates that 45,500 new jobs would be created in EU member states in 2019 if the existing solar trade barriers are removed.

The EU has levied antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) on PV cells and modules imported from China since August 2013. Originally arranged to be in effect until the end of 2015, the EU has extended AD/CVD on Chinese solar imports twice – the first extension lasted to March 2017 and the second extension will run up to September of this year. By then, the EU will again decide on whether to extend this measure for the third time.

(The above article is an English translation of a Chinese article written by Daisy Chuang. The credit of the photo at the top of the article goes to Bernd Sieker via Flickr and falls under the license of CC BY-SA 2.0.)

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