Utility scale solar tops 30 GW globally, finds Wiki-Solar

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Analysis by Wiki-Solar has revealed that the global installed capacity of utility scale solar PV has reached 30.3 GW, up from 21.5 GW at the beginning of 2014.

Defining a utility scale solar plant as an installation larger than 4 MWac, the research suggests that 2014 is the fifth-consecutive in which the industry has broken previous records.

Leading the way in this sector is the U.S., which has 407 solar plants larger than 4 MWac, generating a combined capacity of just over 7 GW. China is the second-largest utility scale market, with 245 plants deploying 6.5 GW of PV capacity, with Germany in third place (281 plants, 3.47 GW capacity), India in fourth (196 plants, 2.2 GW) and the U.K. in fifth, with 1.9 GW of solar PV capacity from 250 utility scale installations.

South Africa’s utility scale market has entered the top ten for the first time, finds Wiki-Solar, with the Rainbow Nation boasting 20 such plants generating 680 MW of PV. Joining South Africa in the top ten is Spain (1.7 GW from 172 plants), Italy (901 MW from 86 plants), Canada (896 MW from 72 plants) and France (819 MW from 63 plants).

Notably, Japan’s 475 MW of utility scale capacity – while strong – is evidence of the country’s rapidly expanding residential and commercial scale sectors, which drive the bulk of its PV activity. Romania, Chile, Thailand and Ukraine complete the top 15 countries that, combined, account for 94% of the entire world’s utility scale solar PV capacity.

"Grid-feeding solar generation continues to dazzle, with records being broken all over the place," said Wiki-Solar’s Philip Wolfe. "Our figures show the U.S. has become the first country to achieve 7 GW of utility scale PV capacity. Meanwhile, the U.K. will probably be seen to have topped 2 GW once the summer’s completed projects are incorporated into the register.

"Japan and Chile continue to climb the table and, with substantial capacity still under development, both will be vying for top-ten places before long."

Wiki-Solar’s database is derived from more than 3,000 utility scale solar projects worldwide, of which two-thirds are operational and the remainder under development or construction.