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Global Solar Capacity Jumps by 50pc

13 Mar 14:00 by Steve Walia

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Rapid investment in China and the USA last year helped global solar capacity to grow by 50pc in 2016. Total new capacity hit over 76GW, compared to 50Gw in 2015.

The surge was led by the US and China, with both countries growing their solar installations by nearly 100pc, according to statistics gathered by SolarPower Europe, the region's solar power trade organisation.

Across the world, there is now total solar capacity if 305GW, compared to 50GW in 2010 and almost no installed solar at all in 2000.

The solar industry described the growth as being highly significant and said that the green energy technology was a vital way for the world's government's to work towards their commitments on greenhouse emission reductions.

SolarPower Europe's CEO, James Watson, said that the Paris climate agreement targets could be met more easily if solar continued on its growth trajectory. He said that the industry was well positioned to do that, and even to grow at a faster rate.

In Britain, the total amount of installed solar last year dropped by about 50pc compared to 2015 levels. The decrease followed a government policy change which saw incentives for homeowners slashed and subsidies ended for commercial-size solar farms.

However, even with the slowdown in fresh capacity, the UK was a still a solar growth leader in Europe, followed by Germany, which added 21pc, and France, which added 8pc. Germany has the highest total solar capacity in Europe overall after moving to a subsidised model for new developments. Italy is in second place.

Across Europe, there is now over 140GW of installed solar power. Growth has now slowed, however, and the solar industry wants to see more ambitious solar projects and targets put into place to further stimulate progress.