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China, US Lead Solar Power Growth Globally in 2016

By | Mar 08, 2017 01:29 AM EST
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Solar Power Industry In Spain

Photovoltaic power panels stand at Abaste's El Bonillo Solar Plant while wind turbines spin at a wind farm on the background on December 2, 2015 in El Bonillo, Albacete province, Spain.(Photo : Getty Images)

The amount of solar power added worldwide jumped to 50 percent in 2016, thanks to China and US increasing demand.

Recent data reveal that new solar photovoltaic capacity installed last year soared to more than 76 gigawatts, a huge jump from the 51.2GW installed in 2015. Both China and US drove the surge, as they both nearly doubled the amount of solar added in 2015, according to Europe's solar power trade body.

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Asia's solar market share, spearheaded by China, also jumped to over 66 percent in 2016. Having the world's largest solar market, China added 34.2GW in 2016, more than 125 percent in 2015.

The US demand for new solar capacity was more than twice as large as that of in Europe. It added 14GW of solar power, up from 7.3GW in 2015.

Japan ranked in third on the list contributing 8.6GW, ahead of India's 4.5GW. Currently, there is already 305GW of solar power capacity, six times more than the 50GW capacity in 2010.

Installations in Europe, on the other hand, slid down to over 21 percent to 6.7GW in 2016, despite falling solar energy prices. The drop also came after the UK government drastically stopped household incentives to fit solar panels and cut subsidies for large scale solar farms.

The solar power industry described the growth as "very significant." It also added that the technology is important for the world to meet its climate change targets.

"In order to meet the Paris [climate agreement] targets, it would be important if solar could continue its rapid growth. The global solar industry is ready to do that, and can even speed up," James Watson, SolarPower Europe's CEO, said.

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