Annual solar installations to outstrip wind for first time, Bloomberg says

The global solar power industry will grow by 36.7 GW this year, outstripping installed wind power capacity for the first time.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that wind farms are on course to add 35.5 GW of power globally for 2013, beaten into second place by solar after experiencing an estimated 25% fall in growth. Conversely, solar power capacity ­­— buoyed by robust policy support in key markets — has supplanted wind power as the chief source of renewable energy, growing by approximately 20% since last year.

"The dramatic cost reductions in photovoltaics, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes,"said BNEF’s head of solar analysis, Jenny Chase.

As recently as 2011, global wind installations were more than double solar, but with the key markets of Europe, the U.S. and China lacking clarity and forward momentum in their planning process, solar has been able to steal a march.

Lower panel costs and steady government support have created a stable market for solar, despite slow growth in Europe’s more mature markets, such as Germany and Italy. Elsewhere, though, the solar industry is experiencing an encouraging uptick in investment, interest, and installation. Analysts Mercom Capital Group, for instance, forecast that total installed solar capacity may even reach 38 GW for 2013; even outdoing the BNEF’s prediction.

The BNEF predicts, however, that both wind and solar power combined will account for more than a third of global electricity capacity by 2030, with wind increasing from 5% currently to 17%, and solar enjoying an even steeper rise – expanding from its current 2% share to 16%.