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The last line of defense today against the next zebra mussel invasion of the Great Lakes is a rule that requires overseas freighters to flush their ballast tanks with mid-ocean saltwater before the ships nose into the first navigation lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway. (Part 4 of 4)
New analysis by the Worldwatch Institute examines global trends in the solar power sector
Washington, D.C.—The year 2013 saw record-breaking growth for solar electricity generation as the photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) markets continued to grow. With over 39 gigawatts installed worldwide, the PV solar market represented one third of all newly-added renewable energy capacity, write Worldwatch’s Max Lander and Climate and Energy Intern Xiangyu Wu in the Worldwatch Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online trend (www.worldwatch.org).
Solar PV installations nearly matched those of hydropower and, for the first time, outpaced wind additions. Even though photovoltaics continue to dwarf CSP capacity, the CSP market also had another year of impressive growth. By the end of 2013, a total of 19 countries had CSP plants installed or under construction.
Consumption of power from PV and CSP plants increased by 30 percent globally in 2013 to reach 124.8 terawatt-hours. Europe accounted for the majority of global solar power consumption (67 percent), followed by Asia (23.9 percent) and North America (8.1 percent). Worldwide, solar consumption equaled 0.5 percent of electricity generation from all sources.
Despite the record growth in installations, global investments in solar electricity were down 20 percent (from $142.9 billion in 2012 to $113.7 billion in 2013), reflecting a significant decrease in costs. In July 2014, global PV module spot prices reached an all-time low of $0.63 per watt. For the first time, Asia overtook Europe as the largest regional market.
While global PV module production increased by only 3 percent over 2012, module shipments jumped by 24 percent, signaling an easing of oversupply problems.
Prospects are bright for solar development as prices continue to fall and approach grid parity in an increasing number of contexts. Rooftop solar is already less expensive per megawatt-hour than retail electricity in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Italy, and Germany. Estimates now also show that PV has become price-competitive without subsidies in 15 countries. For2014, solar installations are estimated to reach 40–51 gigawatts.
Country Highlights from the Report:
- China installed 12.9 gigawatts of PV, the most ever installed in one year by any country. The country’s momentous expansion was fueled largely by its feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which supports large, grid-connected utility-scale projects as well as distributed generation projects. However, grid connections are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of China’s PV deployment.
- Europe installed close to 11 GW of PV. This represented the second annual decline in installations after peaking at 22.3 GW in 2011. In Germany, a reduction of FIT rates and an increase in regulations for utility-scale projects contributed to the fall in installations.
- North America added 5.2 GW of PV. The United States installed the third most PV worldwide, with 4.8 GW.
- In Central and South America, solar development has been sluggish. Despite power consumption more than doubling in 2013, the region still accounts for a small fraction of the world’s solar power.
- The Middle East and Africa had little PV activity, with the exception of Israel and South Africa, which added 420 MW and 75 MW, respectively.
Notes to Editors:
For more information and to obtain a complimentary copy of "Solar Power Installations Jump to a New Annual Total," please contact Gaelle Gourmelon at email@example.com.
About the Worldwatch Institute:
Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute’s State of the World report is published annually in more than a dozen languages. For more information, visit www.worldwatch.org.
About Vital Signs Online:
Vital Signs Online provides business leaders, policymakers, and engaged citizens with the latest data and analysis they need to understand critical global trends. It is an interactive, subscription-based tool that provides hard data and research-based insights on the sustainability trends that are shaping our future. All of the trends include clear analysis and are placed in historical perspective, allowing you to see where the trend has come from and where it might be headed. New trends cover emerging hot topics-from global carbon emissions to green jobs-while trend updates provide the latest data and analysis for the fastest changing and most important trends today. Every trend includes full datasets and complete referencing. Visit http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org to subscribe today to Vital Signs Online.
In response to the deadly 2013 explosion at a Texas fertilizer facility, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering adding ammonium nitrate and other substances to those covered by its regulation to prevent high-hazard chemical accidents, the agency announced July 24.
As regulators ask the public for comment on fracking rules, one set of rules won’t be under consideration. Those are the rules that govern air pollution at fracking sites, which, in the case of natural gas drilling, can be both acutely hazardous and carcinogenic.
Science requires replication, and lots of it. So it’s been difficult to gauge the health impacts of shale development from a few scattered studies, says Bernard Goldstein, a public health expert.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Monday defended his agency's controversial move to consider processing spent nuclear fuel from Germany at South Carolina's Savannah River Site nuclear facility, saying the proposal is consistent with U.S. efforts to secure highly enriched uranium across the globe.
Sensitized to the environmental costs of livestock, a new generation eyes options for changing our carnivorous ways.
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday directed the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to take action to block toxic PCB waste from being stored at the Clinton Landfill in an effort to protect the Mahomet Aquifer, the drinking water source for 750,000 residents across Central Illinois.
A fire at the oil depot for the airport in Libya's capital raged out of control Monday after being struck in the crossfire of warring militias battling for control of the airfield, the latest violence to plague the country as foreigners flee the chaos.
Pennsylvania’s government has not only failed, but refused, to assess the public health impact of the natural gas industry.
The current Ebola outbreak is more than a sum of national emergencies. It is now a regional crisis, and the whole of West Africa must act to contain it.
This goal of transforming Cambodia into the power plant of Southeast Asia may promise economic gain, but it also entails significant costs.
Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing but expecting a different result. Psychologists define perseveration as repetitive behavior that interferes with learning. Whatever we call it, that seems to be what is happening. And whatever it is, it doesn’t make sense. Natural gas is not the bridge to clean energy; it’s the road to more climate change.
Today we are commemorating 60 years since the first Clean Air Act following the 1952 Great Smog, which killed thousands in just a few days. Over the following decades we have managed to get on top of eight of the nine regulated pollutants.
A northwestern Ontario First Nation has released a five-year-old report confirming the community suffers ongoing effects from mercury poisoning, but it says the government has never acted on the findings.
Environment Canada’s enforcement branch asked a spokesman to “limit information” given to reporters about how long it took to launch a federal investigation into a serious Alberta oilsands leak last summer.
Monolithic agricultural companies are claiming they can practice sustainable farming in the heart of one of the world's most important wildernesses. The ravaged state of the Paraguayan Chaco forest is telling a different story.
Pennsylvania's manure management rules have been on the books since the 1970s, and larger farms have been held to them. But many small Pennsylvania farmers are unaware that the rules exist, according to farmers, conservation agents and environmental advocates.
A watershed moment: Isle Royale National Park ordered its ferry to disinfect water in ballast tanks.
Isle Royale National Park Superintendent Phyllis Green pounced when she learned in 2007 that an invasive virus deadly to dozens of freshwater fish species was creeping toward her island — a reef-rimmed wildlife refuge in the biggest, coldest and wildest of the Great Lakes. (Part 3 of 4)
No one knows how many paddlefish once swam the Missouri and Mississippi watersheds, but it’s certain that the fish used to be much more numerous. Why care about paddlefish? They are humanity’s best last chance with sturgeon and their relations.