Renewable Energy

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Welcome to the PowerWeb Renewable Energy data and information section. On this page, we provide detailed charts and data from the leading publishers of the latest Wind Energy and Solar Photovoltaic (PV) forecasts. At this time, our data is limited to Wind and Solar but we may add other key segments, such as hydroelectric power. The data covers the world market for Wind and PV installations and we present both total cumulative installations and annual net new installations. In the following, we measure installation output by megawatts (MW) and gigawatts (GW).

Wind & Solar (worldwide) Wind Total Capacity Wind New Installations Solar Total Capacity Solar New Installations
2018 Forecast: 600.5 GW 60.9 GW 518.3 GW 113.0 GW
2017 Preliminary: 539.6 GW 52.6 GW 405.3 GW 98.9 GW
2017-2018 Change +11.3% +15.8% +27.9% +14.3%
Wind Cumulative Installations Wind Net New Installations Solar Cumulative Installations Solar Net New Installations
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Wind & Solar Energy Installation Data: 2000-2016 Actuals + 2017-2021 Forecast

The world market for renewable energy is booming and accounts for a small but rapidly growing share of total world electricity consumption. In 2016, out of $718 billion in global electricity investments, renewables-based power accounted for $297 billion. 2016 was a relatively weak year for the wind industry with new installations down 14% to 55 GW from 64 GW in 2015, which brought the global total capacity to 488 GW. China led the way with 23 GW of new installed capacity (China's record is 31 GW in one year set in in 2015), ahead of the U.S., Germany, India, and Brazil. China now has more than 168 GW of wind power installed or more than all of Europe combined. The U.S. has 82 GW.

From being an expensive curiosity in research labs and on satellites in the 1980s, solar power or PV has become a major challenger to conventional electricity generation technologies. The global solar PV industry experienced a new record year of growth in 2016 reaching total capacity of 306 GW, or more than 200 times the capacity in 2000. More than 76 GW of new PV systems were installed globally in 2016 (51 GW in 2015). The preliminary 2017 totals and forecast for 2018 are 99 GW and 113 GW of global new installations, respectively. In 2016, utility-scale systems dominated the global solar market, accounting for 55 GW or a 72% share of new installations vs. 65% in 2015.

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Global Wind & Solar Installations in Gigawatts (GW)

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Global Cumulative Installations 2000-2021e

Global Wind and Solar Energy - Total Installations in GW 2000-2016 and forecast from 2017-2021

WIND: While windmills have been built for centuries, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that large utility scale wind farms were constructed. During the 1990s, wind power took off and grew into a multibillion dollar industry. By 1997, 1.5 GW of new capacity was installed worldwide (7.6 GW total global capacity). By year end 2000, 17.4 GW had been installed (3.7 GW new capacity during the year). Five years later, in 2005, total cumulative capacity was now at 59.2 GW with 11.5 GW of new capacity added. New installations kept growing at a rapid pace until 2010. From 2009 to 2012, the growth in new installations slowed and in 2013, the industry suffered a dramatic and unprecedented 9.2 GW (-21%) decline in new installations. The slump in new installations had a major impact on sales and profits of both wind turbine manufacturers and project developers. The industry quickly recovered in 2014 and in 2015 installed a record 63.6 GW of new capacity (432.7 GW total). In 2016, 64 GW in new installations were expected, however, only 54.6 GW were installed followed by another decline to 52.6 GW in 2017 (preliminary). According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the slowdown is mainly due to the transition to fully commercial market-based operation, which has left policy gaps in some countries. In 2018, 60.9 GW in new installations are expected. For 2021, the forecast for new installations is 75.3 GW and a total installed capacity of 810.5 GW.

Over the years, the size of wind turbines have increased from just 75 KW in the 1980s, then 300-750 KW in the 1990s and 1.5-2.0 MW in the 2000s. According to Windpower Monthly, today, the largest wind turbines on the market today are the 9.5 GW Vestas V164, the 8 MW Adwen AD 8-180, the 8 MW Siemens SWT-8.0-154, and the 7.58 MW Enercon E-126.

SOLAR: As a result of massive price declines in recent years, solar power is now widely recognized as a cost competitive and reliable source of energy.

Over the years, solar has lagged significantly behind wind power in terms of annual installed capacity and cumulative capacity but is rapidly closing the gap in annual installations. Already by 2019, it is predicted that solar will surpass wind in new installed capacity. The solar revolution began in earnest in 2008 when new installations soared to 6.7 GW from 2.5 GW the year before. The 268% surge preceded another 7.3 GW of installed capacity in 2009. In 2010, new installations more than doubled to 17.2 GW, bringing the global cumulative capacity to 40.3 GW. In 2011, new installations surged yet again and finished the year at 30.1 GW (70.5 GW total). 2012 was a flat year for solar with a 0.1 GW decline in new installations. Prior to 2012, the industry had ramped up capacity expecting another strong year of sales and profits. When this did not come to fruition, the industry was left with excess capacity and prices of PV products such as panels, modules and cells declined and manufacturers with high-levels of debt quickly found themselves in a struggle to survive. The industry recovered in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, as the wind power industry experienced a big slump in new capacity, solar for the first time surpassed wind in annual installations. Wind retook the lead in new installations in 2014 and 2015 but in 2016, solar opened up a wide gap with 77 GW in new installations or 22 GW ahead of wind. In 2017 (preliminary figures), new PV installations were almost twice as high as wind (99 GW vs. 53 GW).

A year of strong growth is predicted for 2018 with new installations expected to surpass the 100 GW mark for the first time with an increase of more than 14% to ~113 GW, up from 98.9 GW in 2017.

Annual New Installations 2000-2021e

Global Wind and Solar Energy - Annual Net New Installations in GW 2000-2016 and forecast from 2017-2021

Wind Energy Installations by Country and World Region in 2017

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Wind Energy Installed Capacity in MW by Country 2017

In 2017 (preliminary figures), China was by far the largest country by both new installed capacity (19.5 GW) and total capacity (188.2 GW). In second place, the United States boasted 89.1 GW of total wind power capacity by the end of 2017 - ahead of Germany (56.1 GW), India (32.8 GW), Spain (23.2 GW), and United Kingdom (18.9 GW). According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. wind power capacity was up 7.0 GW or 8.6% in 2017. The fluctuations of renewable installations in the U.S. market in the recent past are an issue of politics and incentives. In February 2018, the GWEC released its annual market statistics and stated that "wind is the most competitively priced technology in many if not most markets; and the emergence of wind/solar hybrids, more sophisticated grid management and increasingly affordable storage begin to paint a picture of what a fully commercial fossil-free power sector will look like."

Among the top 20 countries by total wind power capacity in 2017, the fastest growing by new installations were United Kingdom (+4.3 GW / +29.2%), Brazil (+2.0 GW / +18.8%), Ireland (+0.4 GW / +15.8%), India (+4.1 GW / +14.5%), and France (+1.7 GW / +14.0%).

Solar Energy Installations by Country and World Region from 2000-2021

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The development of large solar power markets in Asia (China, India and Japan) and in the United States has demonstrated that solar is no longer Europe-centric. Far from it. In 2016, Asia-Pacific surpassed Europe to become the largest solar power region in the world with 147 GW of total installed capacity, equal to a 48% global market share. In 2015, Germany surrendered its position as the #1 country by total installed capacity to China. During 2016, the Chinese installed a whopping 34 GW of new PV systems up from 15 GW the year before. As of year end 2016, the country had amost 78 GW cumulative capacity installed.

In the Asia/Pacific region, India "only" installed 0.6 GW, 2.0 GW and 4.0 GW in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. However, India's total capacity is expected to grow from 9.5 GW in 2016 to 76 GW by 2021, which means it will be installing 66 GW from 2017-2021, or more than 13 GW annually, on average. India's solar boom has only just begun. The nation is targeting 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

Out to 2021, significant new solar markets are expected to develop in Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and UAE. Today, these countries have relatively little installed capacity.

Total PV Cumulative Capacity by Country (top 10) in 2016

Total PV installed capacity in GW by Country (top 10) in 2016

Source: SolarPower Europe (2017). Global Market Outlook For Solar Power / 2017 - 2021.

In 2015, China surpassed Germany's installed base of solar power capacity and claimed the position as the largest solar market by both new installations and cumulative capacity. The Chinese Government had a target of 18.1 GW in new installations for 2016 but came in much higher at almost 35 GW. China is expected to grow its cumulative installed capacity from 77.9 GW in 2016 to 197.9 GW by the end of 2021, an increase of about 120 GW or more than 154%. China was officially targeting 100 GW by 2020, then upped that to 143 GW and is now aiming for 213 GW. By the end of July 2017, China's solar PV capacity topped 112 GW after installing an impressive 35 GW in the first seven months of the year.

The United States is expected to grow its cumulative installed capacity from 42.4 GW in 2016 to 112.3 GW by the end of 2021, an increase of almost 70 GW or 165%. At 112 GW in 2021, the U.S. will be in second place after China, 36 GW ahead of India, and almost 40 GW ahead of Japan. Over the next 5 years, we can expect to see Germany fall to fifth place with 54 GW ahead of Italy's 23 GW, United Kingdom (16 GW), France (15 GW), Australia (14 GW), and South Korea (12 GW).

New PV Installations by Country (top 10) in 2016

New PV installed capacity in GW by Country (top 10) in 2016

Source: SolarPower Europe (2017). Global Market Outlook For Solar Power / 2017 - 2021.

China installed 34.5 GW of PV in 2016, a 128% increase over 2015. This level of growth came as a surprise to many and was triggered by a feed-in tariff cut in the middle of the year. China is also the world's largest producer of PV modules (since 2007) and produces almost half of all PV grade poly-silicon. In second place, Japan installed 11.0 GW of new PV systems in 2015 - also supported by feed-in tariffs.

The United States was the world's second largest solar power market in 2016. At 14.7 GW, the country's annual installed capacity was up almost 100% from the year before. In the U.S., solar power was the #1 source of new electric generation capacity added in 2016 with a share of 39%.

Total PV Cumulative Installed Capacity by Country (top 10) in 2016 and 2021

Total PV installed capacity forecast in GW by Country (top 10) in 2016 and 2021

Source: SolarPower Europe (2016). Global Market Outlook For Solar Power / 2017 - 2021.

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