Wiki-Solar.org released its preliminary utility-scale solar cumulative and annual installed capacity figures today, finding that 2014 will represent another year of record growth for the sector with installations far surpassing 10 GW for the year.
Traditionally strong markets in North Africa, Asia and Europe continue to see projects being developed, being joined in 2014 by South America and Africa.
South Africa has been the leading African market in 2014, with the 94 MW Sishen power plant representing the largest on the continent. In South America, Chile is the outstanding market with 13 PV power plants having been connected to the grid so far this year according to Wiki-Solar records.
Wiki-Solar defines a PV power plant as any being over 4 MW in capacity. Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe indicates that its records already show 10 GW of new capacity to have been reached in 2014, but that figure is likely to grow when it publishes its final data for the year in March 2015.
While continued growth in North America and particularly strong results in Japan and China were global highlights for the PV power plant sector in 2014, the year also saw a significant shift in Europe. After registering a declining utility scale solar market in 2012 and 2013, 2014 saw that trend turning around. A bumper year in the UK, which now boasts a cumulative capacity in excess of 2 GW in solar farms, and steady growth in France are the drivers of the European turnaround.
2015 and beyond
Looking to 2015, Wiki-Solars Wolfe said the leading markets are set to be the U.S., China, India with supporting roles played by Chile, Japan and South Africa.
There will be pressure in the States [U.S.] to complete projects in the pipeline, because the future for tax incentives becomes uncertain from 2016, said Wolfe. Europes best market in the short term will remain the UK, which has now topped 2 GW and is likely to leapfrog India to the worlds number four market by the end of March. This position may prove temporary, because large-scale solar becomes ineligible for the UKs Renewables Obligation from April 1. Perhaps France, which has recently started Europes largest plant at Cestas will then take up the running.
Wolfe expects South America to surpass Africa in 2015 or 2016, particularly as development in Brazil begins to support the booming Chilean pipeline.