This year is set to be the first in which solar has added more megawatts of capacity than wind, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The report predicts that 33.8 GW of new onshore wind farms, plus 1.7 GW of offshore wind, will be added globally in 2013. This compares with its median forecast of 36.7 GW of new solar PV capacity.
In 2012, BNEF says wind – onshore and offshore – added 46.6 GW, while PV added 30.5 GW, record figures in both cases. But in 2013, a slowdown in the world's two largest wind markets, China and the U.S., is opening the way for the rapidly growing PV market to overtake wind.
‘The dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes,’ says Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF. ‘Europe is a declining market, because many countries there are rapidly moving away from incentives, but it will continue to see new PV capacity added.’
Justin Wu, head of wind analysis at BNEF, says, ‘We forecast that wind installations will shrink by nearly 25 percent in 2013, to their lowest level since 2008, reflecting slowdowns in the U.S. and China caused by policy uncertainty. However, falling technology costs, new markets and the growth of the offshore industry will ensure wind remains a leading renewable energy technology.’
Despite the change in rankings for 2013, BNEF says the maturing sectors of onshore wind and PV will contribute almost equally to the world's new electricity capacity additions between now and 2030. The company forecasts that wind (on and offshore) will expand from 5% of the world's total installed power generation capacity in 2012 to 17% in 2030. PV, from a lower base of 2% in 2012, will grow to 16% by 2030.
Furthermore, the report says after years of oversupply and consolidation, technology suppliers in both sectors may see a move back to profit in 2013.
‘Cost cuts and a refocusing on profitable markets and business segments have bolstered the financial performance of wind turbine makers and the surviving solar manufacturers,’ comments Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF. ‘Stock market investors have been noticing this change, and clean energy shares have rebounded by 66 percent since their lows of July 2012.’