Solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) markets saw record-breaking growth in 2013 with around 39 GW of capacity installed worldwide. This means that solar capacity additions outpaced new wind power for the first time.

The figures come from a Vital Signs Online report from the Worldwatch Institute on PV and CSP markets. PV makes u much more capacity than CSP, but the latter is growing significantly, and 19 countries now have CSP plants. According to the report, consumption of power from PV and CSP plants increased by 30%  globally in 2013 to reach 125 TWh. Europe accounted for the majority of global solar power consumption at 67%, followed Asia (24%) and North America (8%). Worldwide, solar consumption equalled 0.5% of electricity generation from all sources.

Despite this record growth in installations global investments in solar electricity were down 20% (from $143bn in 2012 to $114bn in 2013). Worldwatch attributes this to a significant reduction in cost of solar technologies.

According to the organisation, rooftop PV is less expensive per MWh that retail electricity in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Italy, and Germany. Estimates indicate has PV has become price competitive without subsidies in 15 countries. For 2014, new solar installations are predicted to reach 40-51 GW.

The numbers show that China installed 13 GW of PV in 2013 – the most ever installed in a year by any country. Europe installed 11 GW, a decline from the peak of 22GW in 2011 – a result of reduced feed-in tariff rates. The US installed the third most PV worldwide, with 4.8 GW.

Source: Energy World News September 2014