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Published on February 12th, 2013 | by Cynthia Shahan

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World Solar PV Capacity Surpasses 100 Gigawatts In 2012

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February 12th, 2013 by  

This bright news below brings the message that people are changing, things are changing. From a statement released in Brussels yesterday we find that the world’s cumulative solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity capacity surpassed 100 gigawatts (GW) in 2012, achieving just over 101 GW. This is according to new market figures from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). “A landmark year,” EPIA called it. Indeed!

Wonderful to find that it’s not just speeches and pleas for change, that there is change in the works. The sun is the source of energy the world is harnessing without depletion or toxicity to a greater and greater extent. And 2012 was another strong year for the solar industry (following a very strong in in 2011). More than 30 GW of PV were connected to the electricity grid in 2012, EPIA added. And there was a sort of balancing out in where that solar power was installed. Non-European markets increased their installations and accounted for more than 13 GW of the worldwide total.

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

“This global capacity to harness the power of the sun produces as much electricity energy in a year as 16 coal power plants or nuclear reactors of 1 GW each. Each year, the world’s PV installations reduce CO2 emissions by 53 million tons,” EPIA wrote.

The surpassing of the 100-GW mark occurred in yet another year of strong global PV development, with an estimated 30 GW connected to the grid and made operational in 2012 – roughly the same as the record-setting level of 2011. These results are preliminary, and the 30 GW figure could be increased by an additional 1 or 2 GW when final numbers come in. Final results for the year will be published in May, in EPIA’s annual “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics 2013-2017.”

Sun Hits Solar Panels via flickr

We are seeing the doable, absolutely necessary changes that I am sure Connie Hedegaard is counting a happiness, along with CleanTechnica, the rest of Europe, and our whole small planet. We seek more efforts such as this to be the norm.

“No one would have predicted even 10 years ago that we would see more than 100 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity in the world by 2012,” said EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann. “The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011.”

Here’s to Jumping to Speed of Light with Renewable Energy

As noted above, outside of Europe (the solar leader to date), there was important solar growth. The year showed an important “shift towards a more global PV market,” EPIA wrote, “with 13 GW of PV installations occurring outside of Europe (compared to just under 8 GW in 2011) and nearly 17 GW in Europe (compared to nearly 23 GW in 2011). The top three European PV markets in 2012 were Germany (with 7.6 GW), Italy (3.3 GW) and France (1.2 GW). The top three non-European markets were China (with at least 3.5 GW and possibly as much as 4.5 GW), the U.S. (3.2 GW) and Japan (2.5 GW).”

Added Hoffmann, “The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source.”

It seems that everyone is jumping to speed up with this, and unlike other types of energy, there are no serious downsides to solar. The speed of light is the kind of pace and change we do need. Light is light is light, and who does not need more light?

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About the Author

is an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropologist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.



  • anderlan

    Crap, we should be increasing this by 100GW PER YEAR. That’s the volume needed for the flat panel manufacturers to consider re-tooling. Solar power is still in its infancy: we create WAY MORE square meters of power-using display panels per year than power-generating panels. We must speed up. MORE. MOAR!

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Wouldn’t disagree.

  • kate

    Even with 100 GW of grid solar power there been no reduction in emission around the world it just a figure like any thing else, it not a real representation of solar power.
    We don’t produce 100 GW of this energy on any given day that a fact, I’ve got 5kw of solar power hardy ever see it produce 5kw on average 2.5kw per hour like the above 100GW would only be half that amount.

    • cynthia shahan

      Thank you for your realism. I am being hopeful, no doubt, that things are changing, but as you note, they are not fast enough, and should have years past already. Still hope is alive and the focus on this type of energy brings it to public view more and hopefully becomes as common as the Campbell soup can used to be.

    • Bob_Wallace

      kate – we all realize the Sun does not shine 24 hours a day.

      100 GW of panels installed means that for every hour of usable sunlight we get 100 GWhs of electricity. Since the US averages over 4 ‘solar hours’ per day were we to install 100 GW then on average we would generate over 400 GWhs of electricity per day.

      CO2 emissions for many European countries and for the US are dropping. Not fast enough, clearly, to offset rising CO2 emissions from other countries. Most countries are working on the problem and vastly cheaper solar panels gives us one more tool to use.

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