Worldwide utility-scale solar energy installations surged for a fifth consecutive year in 2014, as per new provisional figures from Wiki-Solar.org.
This continuing surge in installations was aided by notable growth in the South American and African markets, but the big dogs were still Asia and North & Central America.
The new solar capacity added in 2014 topped 10 GW according to the figures. This number is likely to rise somewhat as the official figures come in — these should be available to the public in March.
Despite the notable growth in installations seen throughout most of the world in 2014, it wasn’t universal. Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, etc) saw only very limited growth. Given Australia’s recent policy reversals with regard to renewables (including solar), this certainly isn’t a surprising reality.
The surge in installations seen in Africa in 2014 is largely down to the growth in South Africa — which saw the region’s largest project, the 74 MW Sishen plant, come online in December.
The growth in South America is a similar story, with a large portion of the new capacity coming online in a single country — Chile in this case. At least thirteen new solar plants came online in Chile in 2014.
In Asia — Japan, China, and India all saw good and continued growth, setting the stage for that continent to surpass North America and take the top spot.
Despite the growth in Asia, the USA is still at the top of the pile for the time being, with the largest solar project in the world, the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm in California, coming online in November.
Over in Europe, the decline of the last two years was finally stemmed, thanks largely to a good amount of growth in the UK.
The coming year looks likely, in many ways, to continue these trends, with the major changes likely being in South America (where Brazil will begin building out a lot more solar power), in the US (where the future of tax incentives is uncertain and likely to result in another big year for utility-scale solar power installations), and in the UK (where large-scale solar will soon become ineligible for the country’s “Renewables Obligation”).
Image Credit: Wiki-Solar