Growth of photovoltaics

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Worldwide growth of photovoltaics
Cumulative capacity in megawatts [MWp] grouped by region[1][2][3][4][5]
Approximate regional shares estimated from IEA.[6]
  Global total: no split-up by region available yet. Forecast for 2018
Recent and projected capacity (GWp)
Annual new30.038.440.150.976.898106[9]
Cume growth43%38%28%29%32%32%27%
Installed PV in watts per capita

Worldwid PV capacity in watts per capita by country in 2013.

   none or unknown
   0.1–10 watts
   10–100 watts
   100–200 watts
   200–400 watts
   400–600 watts
Exponential growth on semi-log chart

Exponential growth-curve on a semi-log scale, show a straight line since 1992

Grid parity for solar PV around the world

Grid parity for solar PV systems around the world

  reached before 2014
  reached after 2014
  only for peak prices
  predicted U.S. states

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics has been an exponential curve between 1992–2017. During this period of time, photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar PV, evolved from a niche market of small scale applications to a mainstream electricity source. When solar PV systems were first recognized as a promising renewable energy technology, programs, such as feed-in tariffs, were implemented by a number of governments in order to provide economic incentives for investments. For several years, growth was mainly driven by Japan and pioneering European countries. As a consequence, cost of solar declined significantly due to experience curve effects like improvements in technology and economies of scale.

Experience curves describe that the price of a thing decreases with the sum-total ever produced. PV growth increased even more rapidly when production of solar cells and modules started to ramp up in the USA with their Million Solar Roofs project, and when renewables were added to China's 2011 five-year-plan for energy production.[10] Since then, deployment of photovoltaics has gained momentum on a worldwide scale, particularly in Asia but also in North America and other regions, where solar PV by 2015–17 was increasingly competing with conventional energy sources as grid parity has already been reached in about 30 countries.[11]:9

Projections for photovoltaic growth are difficult and burdened with many uncertainties. Official agencies, such as the International Energy Agency consistently increased their estimates over the years, but still fell short of actual deployment.[12][13][14][15]

Historically, the United States was the leader of installed photovoltaics for many years, and its total capacity amounted to 77 megawatts in 1996—more than any other country in the world at the time. Then, Japan was the world's leader of produced solar electricity until 2005, when Germany took the lead and by 2016 had a capacity of over 40 gigawatts. However, in 2015, China became world's largest producer of photovoltaic power,[16][17][18] and in 2017 became the first country to surpass the 100 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity.[19][20] China is expected to be the leader in installed PV capacity, and along with India and US, it is forecasted to be the largest market for solar PV installations in the coming decade.

By the end of 2017, cumulative photovoltaic capacity reached about 401 gigawatts (GW), estimated to be sufficient to supply 2.1% of global electricity demand.[21][22][23] Solar contributed 8%, 7.4% and 7.1% to the respective annual domestic consumption in Italy, Greece and Germany.[5] The European Photovoltaic Industry Association, a solar industry trade group, claims installed worldwide capacity will more than double or even triple to more than 500 GW between 2016 and 2020;[2] by 2050, it claims solar power will become the world's largest source of electricity. Such an achievement would require PV capacity to grow to 4,600 GW, of which more than half was forecast to be deployed in China and India.[24]

Current status[edit]

Nameplate capacity denotes the peak power output of power stations in unit watt prefixed as convenient, to e.g. kilowatt (kW), megawatt (MW) and gigawatt (GW). Because power output for variable renewable sources is unpredictable, however, using nameplate capacity as a metric significantly overstates a source's average generation. Thus, capacity is typically multiplied by a suitable capacity factor, which takes into account varying conditions - weather, nighttime, latitude, maintenance, etc. to give energy planners an idea of a source's value to the public. In addition, depending on context, the stated peak power may be prior to a subsequent conversion to alternating current, e.g. for a single photovoltaic panel, or include this conversion and its loss for a grid connected photovoltaic power station.[3]:15[25]:10 Worldwide, the average solar PV capacity factor is 11%.[26]

Wind power has different characteristics, e.g. a higher capacity factor and about four times the 2015 electricity production of solar power. Compared with wind power, photovoltaic power production correlates well with power consumption for air-conditioning in warm countries. As of 2017 a handful of utilities have started combining PV installations with battery banks, thus obtaining several hours of dispatchable generation to help mitigate problems associated with the duck curve after sunset.[27][28]

For a complete history of deployment over the last two decades, also see section History of deployment.


In 2017, photovoltaic capacity increased by 95 GW, with a 34% growth year-on-year of new installations. Cumulative installed capacity exceeded 401 GW by the end of the year, sufficient to supply 2.1 percent of the world's total electricity consumption.[23]

Cumulative PV capacity by region as of the end of 2017.[4]

  Europe (28%)
  Asia (50%)
  Americas (19%)
  MEA (2.0%)
  Rest of the World (1%)


As of 2018, Asia was the fastest growing region, with almost 75% of global installations. China alone accounted for more than half of worldwide deployment in 2017. In terms of cumulative capacity, Asia was the most developed region with more than half of the global total of 401 GW in 2017.[21] Europe continued to decline as a percentage of the global PV market. In 2017, Europe represented 28% of global capacity, the Americas 19% and Middle East 2%.[21]

Solar PV covered 3.5% and 7% of European electricity demand and peak electricity demand, respectively in 2014.[4]:6


Added PV capacity by country in 2017 (by percent of world total, clustered by region)[21]

  China (55.8%)
  Japan (7.4%)
  South Korea (1.3%)
  India (9.6%)
  Australia (1.3%)
  United States (11.2%)
  Brazil (0.9%)
  Turkey (2.7%)
  Germany (1.9%)
  United Kingdom (0.9%)
  France (0.9%)
  Netherlands (0.9%)
  Rest of Europe (1.5%)
  Rest of the World (3.7%)

Worldwide growth of photovoltaics is extremely dynamic and varies strongly by country. The top installers of 2017 were China, the United States, and India.[29] There are more than 24 countries around the world with a cumulative PV capacity of more than one gigawatt. The Philippines, Turkey, Israel, and Brazil all crossed the one gigawatt total installations mark in 2017 which Austria, Chile, and South Africa did in 2016. The available solar PV capacity in Honduras is sufficient to supply 12.5% of the nation's electrical power while Italy, Germany and Greece can produce between 7% and 8% of their respective domestic electricity consumption.[23][2][4]

Leading PV deployments in 2017 were China (53 GW), United States (10.6 GW), India (9 GW), and Japan (7 GW), the same four countries that led 2016 installations.[30] [21]

Solar PV capacity by country (MW) and share of total electricity consumption
2015[31]2016[23]2017[21]Share of total
China China15,15043,53034,54078,07053,000131,0001.8% (2017)[32]
European Union European Union7,23094,570
United States United States7,30025,62014,73040,30010,60051,0002.0% (2017)[33]
Japan Japan11,00034,4108,60042,7507,00049,0005.9% (2017)[34]
Germany Germany1,45039,7001,52041,2201,80042,0007.5% (2017)[35]
Italy Italy30018,92037319,27940919,7007.7% (2017)[36]
India India2,0005,0503,9709,0109,10018,3002.2%
United Kingdom United Kingdom3,5108,7801,97011,63090012,7003.8% (2017)[37]
France France8796,5805597,1308758,0001.9% (2017)[38]
Australia Australia9355,0708395,9001,2507,2003.8% (2017)[39]
Spain Spain565,400555,4901475,6005.7% (2017)[40]
South Korea South Korea1,0103,4308504,3501,2005,6001.0% (2016)[41]
Belgium Belgium953,2501703,4222843,8003.9% (2016)[42]
Turkey Turkey5848322,6003,4002.4% (2017)[43]
Canada Canada6002,5002002,7152122,9000.5% (2016)[44]
Netherlands Netherlands4501,5705252,1008532,9001.8% (2017)[45]
Thailand Thailand1211,4207262,1502512,7001.5% (2015)[46]
Greece Greece102,6137.4% (2015)[5]
Czech Republic Czech Republic162,0833.6% (2017)[47]
Switzerland Switzerland3001,3602501,6402601,9002.3% (2016)[48]
Chile Chile4468487461,6106681,800
South Africa South Africa2001,1205361,450131,8000.9% (2016)[49]
Romania Romania1021,325
Austria Austria1509371541,0771531,2501.9% (2016)[50]
Israel Israel200881130910601,100
Bulgaria Bulgaria11,021
Taiwan Taiwan4001,010
Pakistan Pakistan6001,000
Denmark Denmark18378970900609102.8% (2016)[51]
Brazil Brazil900
Philippines Philippines122155756900
Ukraine Ukraine2143299531211742<1% (2017)[52]
Slovakia Slovakia1591
Portugal Portugal58513575771.6% (2016)[53]
Mexico Mexico150320150539
Honduras Honduras39139112.5% (2015)[54]
Malaysia Malaysia632315428650386
Sweden Sweden5113060175933030.2% (2017)[55]
Hungary Hungary60138
Luxembourg Luxembourg15125
Belarus Belarus28,1415596
Poland Poland5787
Russia Russia75[citation needed]
Malta Malta1973
Lithuania Lithuania573
Cyprus Cyprus570
Finland Finland520101523610.1% (2017)[56]
Croatia Croatia1145
Norway Norway2151126.71845
Estonia Estonia44
Republic of Ireland Ireland12
Latvia Latvia02
1 Share of total electricity consumption for latest available year
Historical and projected global demand for solar PV (new installations, GW).
Source: GTM Research, Q2 2017[58]
PV capacity growth in China
Growth of PV in Europe 1992-2014

History of leading countries[edit]

Since the 1950s, when the first solar cells were commercially manufactured, there has been a succession of countries leading the world as the largest producer of electricity from solar photovoltaics. First it was the United States, then Japan, followed by Germany, and currently China.

United States (1954–1996)[edit]

The United States, where modern solar PV was invented, led installed capacity for many years. Based on preceding work by Swedish and German engineers, the American engineer Russell Ohl at Bell Labs patented the first modern solar cell in 1946.[59][60] It was also there at Bell Labs where the first practical c-silicon cell was developed in 1954.[61][62] Hoffman Electronics, the leading manufacturer of silicon solar cells in the 1950s and 1960s, improved on the cell's efficiency, produced solar radios, and equipped Vanguard I, the first solar powered satellite launched into orbit in 1958.

In 1977 US-President Jimmy Carter installed solar hot water panels on the White House promoting solar energy[63] and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, originally named Solar Energy Research Institute was established at Golden, Colorado. In the 1980s and early 1990s, most photovoltaic modules were used in stand-alone power systems or powered consumer products such as watches, calculators and toys, but from around 1995, industry efforts have focused increasingly on developing grid-connected rooftop PV systems and power stations. By 1996, solar PV capacity in the US amounted to 77 megawatts–more than any other country in the world at the time. Then, Japan moved ahead.

Japan (1997–2004)[edit]

Japan took the lead as the world's largest producer of PV electricity, after the city of Kobe was hit by the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995. Kobe experienced severe power outages in the aftermath of the earthquake, and PV systems were then considered as a temporary supplier of power during such events, as the disruption of the electric grid paralyzed the entire infrastructure, including gas stations that depended on electricity to pump gasoline. Moreover, in December of that same year, an accident occurred at the multibillion-dollar experimental Monju Nuclear Power Plant. A sodium leak caused a major fire and forced a shutdown (classified as INES 1). There was massive public outrage when it was revealed that the semigovernmental agency in charge of Monju had tried to cover up the extent of the accident and resulting damage.[64][65] Japan remained world leader in photovoltaics until 2004, when its capacity amounted to 1,132 megawatts. Then, focus on PV deployment shifted to Europe.

Germany (2005–2014)[edit]

In 2005, Germany took the lead from Japan. With the introduction of the Renewable Energy Act in 2000, feed-in tariffs were adopted as a policy mechanism. This policy established that renewables have priority on the grid, and that a fixed price must be paid for the produced electricity over a 20-year period, providing a guaranteed return on investment irrespective of actual market prices. As a consequence, a high level of investment security lead to a soaring number of new photovoltaic installations that peaked in 2011, while investment costs in renewable technologies were brought down considerably. In 2016 Germany's installed PV capacity was over the 40 GW mark.

China (2015–present)[edit]

China surpassed Germany's capacity by the end of 2015, becoming the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power.[66] China's rapid PV growth continued in 2016 – with 34.2 GW of solar photovoltaics installed.[67] The quickly lowering feed in tariff rates at the end of 2015 motivated many developers to secure tariff rates before mid-year 2016 – as they were anticipating further cuts (correctly so). During the course of the year, China announced its goal of installing 100 GW during the next Chinese Five Year Economic Plan (2016–2020). China expected to spend ¥1 trillion ($145B) on solar construction[68] during that period. Much of China's PV capacity was built in the relatively less populated west of the country whereas the main centres of power consumption were in the east (such as Shanghai and Beijing).[69] Due to lack of adequate power transmission lines to carry the power from the solar power plants, China had to curtail its PV generated power.[69][70][71]

History of market development[edit]

Prices and costs (1977–present)[edit]

Swanson's law – the PV learning curve
Price decline of c-Si solar cells
Type of cell or modulePrice per Watt
Multi-Si Cell (>18.5%)$0.103
Mono-Si Cell (>20.0%)$0.126
High Efficiency Mono-Si Cell (>21.0%)$0.157
Superior High Efficiency Mono-Si Cell (USD) (>21.5%)$0.163
270W Multi-Si Module$0.219
280W Multi-Si Module$0.242
290W Mono-Si Module$0.250
300W Mono-Si Module$0.278
Source: EnergyTrend, price quotes, average prices, 31 October 2018[72] 

The average price per watt dropped drastically for solar cells in the decades leading up to 2017. While in 1977 prices for crystalline silicon cells were about $77 per watt, average spot prices in August 2018 were as low as $0.13 per watt or nearly 600 times less than forty years ago. Prices for thin-film solar cells and for c-Si solar panels were around $.60 per watt.[73] Module and cell prices declined even further after 2014 (see price quotes in table).

This price trend was seen as evidence supporting Swanson's law (an observation similar to the famous Moore's Law) that states that the per-watt cost of solar cells and panels fall by 20 percent for every doubling of cumulative photovoltaic production.[74] A 2015 study showed price/kWh dropping by 10% per year since 1980, and predicted that solar could contribute 20% of total electricity consumption by 2030.[75]

In its 2014 edition of the Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published prices for residential, commercial and utility-scale PV systems for eight major markets as of 2013 (see table below).[24] However, DOE's SunShot Initiative report states lower prices than the IEA report, although both reports were published at the same time and referred to the same period. After 2014 prices fell further. For 2014, the SunShot Initiative modeled U.S. system prices to be in the range of $1.80 to $3.29 per watt.[76] Other sources identified similar price ranges of $1.70 to $3.50 for the different market segments in the U.S.[77] In the highly penetrated German market, prices for residential and small commercial rooftop systems of up to 100 kW declined to $1.36 per watt (€1.24/W) by the end of 2014.[78] In 2015, Deutsche Bank estimated costs for small residential rooftop systems in the U.S. around $2.90 per watt. Costs for utility-scale systems in China and India were estimated as low as $1.00 per watt.[11]:9 As of May 2017, a residential 5 kW-system in Australia cost on average about AU$1.25, or US$0.93 per watt.[79]

Typical PV system prices in 2013 in selected countries (USD)
USD/WAustraliaChinaFranceGermanyItalyJapanUnited KingdomUnited States
Source: IEA – Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy report, September 2014'[24]:15
1U.S figures are lower in DOE's Photovoltaic System Pricing Trends[76]

Technologies (1990–present)[edit]

Market-share of PV technologies since 1990

There were significant advances in conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology in the years leading up to 2017. The falling cost of the polysilicon since 2009, that followed after a period of severe shortage (see below) of silicon feedstock, pressure increased on manufacturers of commercial thin-film PV technologies, including amorphous thin-film silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), lead to the bankruptcy of several thin-film companies that had once been highly touted.[80] The sector faced price competition from Chinese crystalline silicon cell and module manufacturers, and some companies together with their patents were sold below cost.[81]

Global PV market by technology in 2013.[82]:18,19

  CdTe (5.1%)
  a-Si (2.0%)
  CIGS (2.0%)
  mono-Si (36.0%)
  multi-Si (54.9%)

In 2013 thin-film technologies accounted for about 9 percent of worldwide deployment, while 91 percent was held by crystalline silicon (mono-Si and multi-Si). With 5 percent of the overall market, CdTe held more than half of the thin-film market, leaving 2 percent to each CIGS and amorphous silicon.[83]:24–25

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) is the name of the semiconductor material on which the technology is based. One of the largest producers of CIGS photovoltaics in 2015 was the Japanese company Solar Frontier with a manufacturing capacity in the gigawatt-scale. Their CIS line technology included modules with conversion efficiencies of over 15%.[84] The company profited from the booming Japanese market and attempted to expand its international business. However, several prominent manufacturers could not keep up with the advances in conventional crystalline silicon technology. The company Solyndra ceased all business activity and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011, and Nanosolar, also a CIGS manufacturer, closed its doors in 2013. Although both companies produced CIGS solar cells, it has been pointed out, that the failure was not due to the technology but rather because of the companies themselves, using a flawed architecture, such as, for example, Solyndra's cylindrical substrates.[85]
The U.S.-company First Solar, a leading manufacturer of CdTe, built several of the world's largest solar power stations, such as the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and Topaz Solar Farm, both in the Californian desert with 550 MW capacity each, as well as the 102 MWAC Nyngan Solar Plant in Australia (the largest PV power station in the Southern Hemisphere at the time) commissioned in mid-2015.[86] The company was reported in 2013 to be successfully producing CdTe-panels with a steadily increasing efficiency and declining cost per watt.[87]:18–19 CdTe was the lowest energy payback time of all mass-produced PV technologies, and could be as short as eight months in favorable locations.[83]:31 The company Abound Solar, also a manufacturer of cadmium telluride modules, went bankrupt in 2012.[88]
In 2012, ECD solar, once one of the world's leading manufacturer of amorphous silicon (a-Si) technology, filed for bankruptcy in Michigan, United States. Swiss OC Oerlikon divested its solar division that produced a-Si/μc-Si tandem cells to Tokyo Electron Limited.[89][90] In 2014, the Japanese electronics and semiconductor company announced the closure of its micromorph technology development program.[91] Other companies that left the amorphous silicon thin-film market include DuPont, BP, Flexcell, Inventux, Pramac, Schuco, Sencera, EPV Solar,[92] NovaSolar (formerly OptiSolar)[93] and Suntech Power that stopped manufacturing a-Si modules in 2010 to focus on crystalline silicon solar panels. In 2013, Suntech filed for bankruptcy in China.[94][95]

Silicon shortage (2005–2008)[edit]

Polysilicon prices since 2004. As of October 2018, the ASP for polysilicon stands at $9.802/kg[72]

In the early 2000s, prices for polysilicon, the raw material for conventional solar cells, were as low as $30 per kilogram and silicon manufacturers had no incentive to expand production.

However, there was a severe silicon shortage in 2005, when governmental programmes caused a 75% increase in the deployment of solar PV in Europe. In addition, the demand for silicon from semiconductor manufacturers was growing. Since the amount of silicon needed for semiconductors makes up a much smaller portion of production costs, semiconductor manufacturers were able to outbid solar companies for the available silicon in the market.[96]

Initially, the incumbent polysilicon producers were slow to respond to rising demand for solar applications, because of their painful experience with over-investment in the past. Silicon prices sharply rose to about $80 per kilogram, and reached as much as $400/kg for long-term contracts and spot prices. In 2007, the constraints on silicon became so severe that the solar industry was forced to idle about a quarter of its cell and module manufacturing capacity—an estimated 777 MW of the then available production capacity. The shortage also provided silicon specialists with both the cash and an incentive to develop new technologies and several new producers entered the market. Early responses from the solar industry focused on improvements in the recycling of silicon. When this potential was exhausted, companies have been taking a harder look at alternatives to the conventional Siemens process.[97]

As it takes about three years to build a new polysilicon plant, the shortage continued until 2008. Prices for conventional solar cells remained constant or even rose slightly during the period of silicon shortage from 2005 to 2008. This is notably seen as a "shoulder" that sticks out in the Swanson's PV-learning curve and it was feared that a prolonged shortage could delay solar power becoming competitive with conventional energy prices without subsidies.

In the meantime the solar industry lowered the number of grams-per-watt by reducing wafer thickness and kerf loss, increasing yields in each manufacturing step, reducing module loss, and raising panel efficiency. Finally, the ramp up of polysilicon production alleviated worldwide markets from the scarcity of silicon in 2009 and subsequently lead to an overcapacity with sharply declining prices in the photovoltaic industry for the following years.

Solar overcapacity (2009–2013)[edit]

Solar module production
utilization of production capacity in %
Utilization rate of solar PV module production capacity in % since 1993[98]:47

As the polysilicon industry had started to build additional large production capacities during the shortage period, prices dropped as low as $15 per kilogram forcing some producers to suspend production or exit the sector. Prices for silicon stabilized around $20 per kilogram and the booming solar PV market helped to reduce the enormous global overcapacity from 2009 onwards. However, overcapacity in the PV industry continued to persist. In 2013, global record deployment of 38 GW (updated EPIA figure[3]) was still much lower than China's annual production capacity of approximately 60 GW. Continued overcapacity was further reduced by significantly lowering solar module prices and, as a consequence, many manufacturers could no longer cover costs or remain competitive. As worldwide growth of PV deployment continued, the gap between overcapacity and global demand was expected in 2014 to close in the next few years.[99]

IEA-PVPS published in 2014 historical data for the worldwide utilization of solar PV module production capacity that showed a slow return to normalization in manufacture in the years leading up to 2014. The utilization rate is the ratio of production capacities versus actual production output for a given year. A low of 49% was reached in 2007 and reflected the peak of the silicon shortage that idled a significant share of the module production capacity. As of 2013, the utilization rate had recovered somewhat and increased to 63%.[98]:47

Anti-dumping duties (2012–present)[edit]

After anti-dumping petition were filed and investigations carried out,[100] the United States imposed tariffs of 31 percent to 250 percent on solar products imported from China in 2012.[101] A year later, the EU also imposed definitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on imports of solar panels from China at an average of 47.7 percent for a two-year time span.[102]

Shortly thereafter, China, in turn, levied duties on U.S. polysilicon imports, the feedstock for the production of solar cells.[103] In January 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce set its anti-dumping tariff on U.S. polysilicon producers, such as Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation to 57%, while other major polysilicon producing companies, such as German Wacker Chemie and Korean OCI were much less affected.[104] All this has caused much controversy between proponents and opponents and was subject of debate.

History of deployment[edit]

Deployment figures on a global, regional and nationwide scale are well documented since the early 1990s. While worldwide photovoltaic capacity grew continuously, deployment figures by country were much more dynamic, as they depended strongly on national policies. A number of organizations release comprehensive reports on PV deployment on a yearly basis. They include annual and cumulative deployed PV capacity, typically given in watt-peak, a break-down by markets, as well as in-depth analysis and forecasts about future trends.

Timeline of the largest PV power stations in the world
Year(a)Name of PV power stationCountryCapacity
1982Lugo United States1
1985Carrisa Plain United States5.6
2005Bavaria Solarpark (Mühlhausen) Germany6.3
2006Erlasee Solar Park Germany11.4
2008Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park Spain60
2010Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant Canada97
2011Huanghe Hydropower Golmud Solar Park China200
2012Agua Caliente Solar Project United States290
2014Topaz Solar Farm(b) United States550
2015Longyangxia Dam Solar Park China850
2016Tengger Desert Solar Park China1547
Also see list of photovoltaic power stations and list of noteworthy solar parks
(a) year of final commissioning (b) capacity given in  MWAC otherwise in MWDC

Worldwide annual deployment[edit]

2018: 103,000 MW (20.4%)2017: 95,000 MW (18.8%)2016: 76,600 MW (15.2%)2015: 50,909 MW (10.1%)2014: 40,134 MW (8.0%)2013: 38,352 MW (7.6%)2012: 30,011 MW (5.9%)2011: 30,133 MW (6.0%)2010: 17,151 MW (3.4%)2009: 7,340 MW (1.5%)2008: 6,661 MW (1.3%)before: 9,183 MW (1.8%)Circle frame.svg
  •   2018: 103,000 MW (20.4%)
  •   2017: 95,000 MW (18.8%)
  •   2016: 76,600 MW (15.2%)
  •   2015: 50,909 MW (10.1%)
  •   2014: 40,134 MW (8.0%)
  •   2013: 38,352 MW (7.6%)
  •   2012: 30,011 MW (5.9%)
  •   2011: 30,133 MW (6.0%)
  •   2010: 17,151 MW (3.4%)
  •   2009: 7,340 MW (1.5%)
  •   2008: 6,661 MW (1.3%)
  •   before: 9,183 MW (1.8%)
Annual PV deployment as a %-share of global total capacity (estimate for 2018).[2][105]

Due to the exponential nature of PV deployment, most of the overall capacity has been installed in the years leading up to 2017 (see pie-chart). Since the 1990s, each year has been a record-breaking year in terms of newly installed PV capacity, except for 2012. Contrary to some earlier predictions, early 2017 forecasts were that 85 gigawatts would be installed in 2017.[106] Near end-of-year figures however raised estimates to 95 GW for 2017-installations.[105]

Global annual installed capacity since 2002, in megawatts (hover with mouse over bar).

  annual deployment since 2002    2016: 76.8 GW   2018: 103 GW (estimate)

Worldwide cumulative[edit]

Worldwide cumulative PV capacity on a semi log chart since 1992

Worldwide growth of solar PV capacity was an exponential curve between 1992 and 2017. Tables below show global cumulative nominal capacity by the end of each year in megawatts, and the year-to-year increase in percent. In 2014, global capacity was expected to grow by 33 percent from 139 to 185 GW. This corresponded to an exponential growth rate of 29 percent or about 2.4 years for current worldwide PV capacity to double. Exponential growth rate: P(t)=P0ert, where P0 is 139 GW, growth-rate r 0.29 (results in doubling time t of 2.4 years).

The following table contains data from multiple different sources. For 1992–1995: compiled figures of 16 main markets (see section All time PV installations by country), for 1996–1999: BP-Statistical Review of world energy (Historical Data Workbook)[107] for 2000–2013: EPIA Global Outlook on Photovoltaics Report[3]:17

 Year CapacityA
1991n.a. C
 Year CapacityA
 Year CapacityA
^A Worldwide, cumulative nameplate capacity in megawatt-peak MWp, (re-)calculated in DC power output.
^B annual increase of cumulative worldwide PV nameplate capacity in percent.
^C figures of 16 main markets, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, European countries, and the United States.

Deployment by country[edit]

See section Forecast for projected photovoltaic deployment in 2017
Grid parity for solar PV systems around the world
  Reached grid-parity before 2014
  Reached grid-parity after 2014
  Reached grid-parity only for peak prices
  U.S. states poised to reach grid-parity
Source: Deutsche Bank, as of February 2015
Number of countries with PV capacities in the gigawatt-scale
Growing number of solar gigawatt-markets

All time PV installations by country[edit]

Cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity (MWp)
Algeria 30300
Belgium 23.7108649106720882722300930743228
Brazil 5D17D32F54
Bulgaria 5.7351411010102010201021
Chile C<1C23368848
China 1923.5425262708010014030080033006800197202819943530
Croatia 0.2203445
Cyprus 3.36.2917326570
Czech 463.3195219592087217521342083
Finland 0.11111111.214.7
Greece 552056241536257925952613
Guatemala n/aF+6
Honduras n/aF+5389
Hungary 0.651.754123578137
India 1614611205232029365050
Luxembourg 26.427.330A30A30A45125
Malta 1.531.671216235473
Norway B6.4B6.6B6.9B7.3B7.7B8.0B8.3B8.7B9.1B9.5B10B111315.3
Pakistan ?4001000
Peru 0D22n/an/a
Philippines ?33155
Poland 1.381.753772487
Romania 0.641.94451115112191325
Slovakia 0.19148508523524533591
Slovenia 9.03581201212256257
South Africa 1301229221120
South Korea1.
Taiwan 321022063767761010
Ukraine 3191326616819432
^A Strong discrepancy for Luxembourg: EPIA-figures report unchanged capacity of 30 MW for Y2011-2013 (source listed in row "References"), while Photovoltaic Barometer[121] reports a capacity of 76.7 MW for Y2012 and 100 MW for Y2013. Table displays EPIA figures.
^B Strong discrepancy for Norway: Figures based on BP-Statistical Review of world energy[107] and IEA-PVPS trend report|[98] as EIPA outlook report[3]:24 mentions virtually zero deployment (as 0.02 watt per capita results in 0.07 MW).
^C Different data source for Chile, figures based on reports[122] published by the Chilean Ministry of Energy—Centro de Energías Renovables (CER) and CORFO. Monthly reports revise figures retroactively. Distinction between solar PV and CSP is missing, however.
^D Figures for Brazil and Peru need to be checked, as sources are unclear. Peru's 22 MW reflects capacity of one solar farm opened in 2012[123][124] Historical data for these countries may be verifiable when new reports are released.
^E Displayed IEA-PVPS/EPIA figures for the United Kingdom differ significantly from those published by DECC.[125][126]
^F Only fragmented figures for all Central American and some Latin American countries available. Based on public figures from GTM's Latin America PV Playbook[127]
^G There's a strong discrepancy between the Trends 2014,[98] Trends 2015 and Trends 2016 report.[120] The cumulative capacity was revised downwards significantly for previous years in the 2016 report.
^H There's a discrepancy between Eur'Observ[118][128][129][115][130][131][119] data IEA[120] data where Eur'Observer reports about 10% less installed capacity. Eur'Observ data is used here.
^I There's a discrepancy between Eur'Observ and IEA. Eur'Observ data used here.

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External links[edit]