The World's Solar Photovoltaic Capacity Has Surpassed the 100-Gigawatt Mark

By Sean Kane email: , Feb 11, 2013 04:02 PM EST

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has announced that the world's solar photovoltaic capacity is now greater than 100 gigawatts.

How much power is 100 gigawatts? Not much. "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," the EPIA said in a statement. This past year saw an estimated 30 GW added to the grid, which is about the same as 2011's also-record-setting growth.

"The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges by the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology," EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann said in the statement. "Even in these tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011."

The countries that added the most PV power to their grids were Germany (7.6 GW), China (estimated between 3.5 and 4.5 GW) and Italy (3.3 GW). The United States added 3.2 GW in 2012. The EPIA said the overall 100 GW total could increase by one or two gigawatts by the time the final results for the year are published in May.

While these numbers are small compared to other energy sources, Hoffmann is optimistic about the industry's growth. "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,"
 Hoffmann added.

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