The amount of solar power added worldwide soared by some 50% last year because of a sun rush in the US and China, new figures show.
New solar photovoltaic capacity installed in 2016 reached more than 76 gigawatts, a dramatic increase on the 50GW installed the year before. China and the US led the surge, with both countries almost doubling the amount of solar they added in 2015, according to data compiled by Europe’s solar power trade body.
Globally there is now 305GW of solar power capacity, up from around 50GW in 2010 and virtually nothing at the turn of the millennium.
Across Europe, the total amount of solar power passed the symbolic milestone of 100GW in early 2016 and now stands at 104GW. However, slowing growth in Europe prompted the solar industry to call for the EU to set more ambitious renewable energy targets.
Nearly half of the solar installed last year was in China, with Asia as a whole making up two-thirds of new capacity in 2016.
Solar is still a relative minnow in the electricity mix of most countries, the figures show. Even where the technology has been embraced most enthusiastically, such as in Europe, solar on average provides 4% of electricity demand.