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GTM puts solar's massive growth in perspective

20th Aug 2013

Around the world, news reports have been full of updates on solar photovoltaic capacity installations, module costs and government programs developed to spur greater adoption of the systems.

All this has resulted in record-setting years for the solar power industry. However, Greentech Media Research recently put together figures in a way to show the world just exactly how tremendous the uptick in solar PV capacity has been.

The graph, released by GTM, shows that in the 40 years leading up to 2011, the solar power industry installed about 50 megawatts of PV power. Solar power became so popular in the 2.5 years after 2011 that another 50 megawatts was installed.

All this suggests that about 66 per cent of the world's current solar electricity capacity was installed since 2011 - a remarkable feat by any standards.

However, the best could be yet to come, according to GTM experts. In the coming 2.5 years, solar installations are expected to double compared to the last 2.5 years, with another 100 gigawatts of solar power coming online.

By 2015, the world could be consuming more than 200 gigawatts of cumulative installed PV capacity.

A changing setting

GTM Research Senior Analyst MJ Shiao stated that the huge amount of solar installations reported in the past 2.5 years will have major implications for the coming decade at least.

With such a high portion of overall solar capacity going online recently, there are still several hardware hiccups and trends that will need to be accounted for.

"We're really at the beginning stages of understanding PV in terms of products in the field, viable business models, and effects on the grid, especially when you consider that PV is being sold many times as a twenty-year asset," Shiao explained.

"Now is the time to look deeper into issues surrounding product reliability, market sustainability and O&M business models."

Shayle Kann, vice president of GTM Research, added that government incentives, which were once thought to be the biggest driver of solar adoption, won't even be a serious contributing factor in the future.

"This is emblematic of a sea change in the solar industry, and even more importantly, in the energy industry," Kann wrote.

As evidence, Kann pointed to one recent batch of installations in California, where more than 3,000 homeowners have installed solar panel systems without the help of any government rebate or feed-in tariff program.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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