The sun is shining brightly on solar power right now, as the total amount added in the world grew by a whopping 50 percent last year. The Guardian reports that new solar PV capacity grew globally in 2016 by a total of 76 gigawatts, up from about 50 GW from 2015. China and the United States were the key players in the power surge, with both countries nearly doubling their added capacity last year. This increase in global solar capacity brings the total worldwide amount up to 350 GW – up from about 50 GW in 2010 and nearly zilch around 2000.
Despite the good news worldwide, things are not looking so great in Europe, where last year’s total installed capacity of 6.9 GW represents a 20 percent decrease from the 8.6 GW installed in 2015.
“Once a solar leader, the European Union is in danger of being eclipsed by Asian powerhouses, such as China, in both solar power production and installations,” said Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe in a press release. “Even the US, with a much smaller population than the EU’s 28 member countries combined, added about twice as much solar power capacities in 2016.”
According to The Guardian, solar installations dropped in the UK by about half from the previous year, when a record level was added. This decline was likely caused by a drastic cut to incentives for homeowners to install solar, and an abrupt end to subsidies for large scale solar projects.