China surpasses Germany as world's solar bright spot

China is now the world’s biggest market for solar power, outstripping Germany, Japan and the U.S. in 2013 with the installation of 12 GW of new PV capacity and aggregated solar spending of $23.56 billion in the space of a year – more than the entire amount of industry financing raised in Europe in 2013.

These findings were published at the weekend in the Global Renewable Energy Report 2014, a study jointly commissioned by Hanergy Holding Group and China New Energy Chamber of Commerce. The report analyzed data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, GlobalData, U.S. Energy Information Administration, the International Energy Bureau, China Electricity Council, and leading wind, hydropower and geothermal associations.

The report’s key findings show that China’s addition of 12 GW of solar PV capacity in 2013 represented a 232% increase in generating capacity, confirming the trend of global shift in power from Europe to Asia – Germany could only muster an additional 3.3 GW of PV capacity, which was a fall of 56.3% in the space of a year. Meanwhile, Italy also saw its solar installations drop by 55%, falling to 1.6 GW of new capacity last year, according to the report.

More recent data has revealed that China is already on course to dominate the solar industry in 2014, too, having installed 3.3 GW of PV capacity in the first half of the year. In Europe, most experts and analysts expect the U.K. market to lead the way this year, having already surpassed 1 GW of installations in the first six months.

"Our research shows that China has already become the world’s biggest solar market," said Hanergy CEO and chairman and president of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, Li Hejun. "Now the country is moving to a more green and sustainable model of development that will drive future global growth in renewable energy."

Globally, solar deployment accelerated with encouraging alacrity, reaching 38.7 GW of new capacity to take the total amount of worldwide solar PV installed to 140.6 GW at the end of last year, up from 101.9 GW in 2012. By segment, thin film enjoyed the most rapid rise, surging 20% globally as more than 4 GW of the technology was deployed.

The share of renewable energy in the world’s generation mix also increased notably last year, rising by 13% per annum against a 4.3% increase in total global power generation. At the turn of the year, renewable energy accounted for 5.2% of the world’s total energy generation capacity, which stood at 22513.8 terawatt hours (TWh).

Hejun added: "Governments are turning to greater use of renewable energy to tackle pollution and deliver energy security, underpinning growth momentum in the global renewable energy industry."