Recent years have seen rapid developments in solar power. According to the Renewables 2010 Global Status Report, the total existing capacity of solar PV exceeded 21GW worldwide and the solar capacity in 2009 is nearly six times that in 2004. Among all kinds of solar power, ground-mounted solar power plants and roof-mounted solar systems are two major categories. Due to implementation challenges and limited mounting roofs, roof-mounted solar systems are usually small scale solar power systems where the capacity is usually below 1MW. Therefore, large scale solar power systems are usually ground mounted solar power plants. In recent years, both ground-mounted solar power plants and roof-mounted solar systems grow fast; however, ground-mounted solar power plants grow more rapidly than ever in the last few years.
Ground-mounted solar power plants grow very fast, not only in volume but also in scale. For example, there are about 38 solar power plants with the capacity greater than 20MWp and most of them are completed after 2007. This indicates that the capacity of new and planned solar power plants will increase.
The development of solar power varies largely by country. So far, European countries are primary drivers of PV installation due to high feed-in tariffs subsidies and good solar resource. Those countries include Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Portugal, Belgium, etc. North American countries also see large investments in solar power as well, such as in USA and Canada. Asia countries including China, Korea, Japan and Thailand also see substantial growth in solar power. The charts below show the added capacity of large-scale PV solar power plants between 2002 and 2010 in the above mentioned countries. In the chart, only solar power plants with the capacity greater than 2MWp are considered as large-scale and are counted (while a capacity above 200kW is generally considered as large scale in the solar industry).
As shown on the chart, about 2GW of Spain solar power plants installed between 2002 and 2010 have capacity larger than 2MW. For Germany, it’s about 1.3GW of installed solar during the period has capacity larger than 2MW. These two countries account for over 70% of all installed large-scale PV solar power in the time period. However, the picture might change, given the recent dynamics in solar policies and developments in other nations. For example, it is expected that a series of the renewable percentage standards will become mandate in USA and some developing countries such as China have ambitious plan in renewable energy investment and favorable national financial support. We will monitor the new developments in solar power closely. Please stay tuned.