Market Snapshot: Declining Solar Panel Costs Result in Record Capacity Additions

Release Date: 2015-01-29

Solar photovoltaic generating capacity has demonstrated remarkable growth in the past five years. According to the International Energy Agency, global solar capacity grew nearly 60 per cent per year from 2008 to 2013. In 2013, almost 40,000 megawatts of capacity was added, over 30 per cent of which was in China.

The U.S. also added significant solar capacity in 2013 with approximately 4,800 megawatts. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggests that solar made up almost a quarter of capacity additions in the U.S. in 2013, second to natural gas-fired generation which contributed over 50 per cent of new capacity.

In part, this increase has been driven by continuously falling costs. Prices for solar panels dropped from C$10.7 per watt in 2000 to C$0.95 per watt in 2013 according to the International Energy Agency.

Figure Sources and Description

Sources: International Energy Agency Reports: Trends 2014 in Photovoltaic Applications and National Survey Report of PV Power Applications in Canada 2013

Description: This chart depicts cumulative global solar photovoltaic generating capacity as well as Canadian solar panel costs per watt from 2000 to 2013. From 550 megawatts in 2000, global solar capacity grew rapidly to nearly 140,000 megawatts in 2013. The growth was most rapid from 2009 to 2013. The cost of solar panels dropped steadily from over 10 Canadian dollars per watt in 2000 to less than a dollar per watt in 2013.

Grid-connected solar photovoltaic capacity in Canada was just over 1,200 megawatts in 2013, about one per cent of the global total. Over 400 megawatts of that was added in 2013 and it is likely that in 2014 even more capacity was added.

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