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GSR 2015

61 02 RENEWABLES 2015 GLOBAL STATUS REPORT (up almost 50% to 0.7 GW), and Jordan became the region’s first countrytosuccessfullylaunchandcompleteasolarprocurement programme.66 The United Arab Emirates continued to emerge as an important centre for demand and manufacturing, and announced large tenders for solar PV.67 Interest in the region is driven by several factors, including high solar insolation rates, rapidly increasing energy demand, solar PV's low water demand, and its potential to desalinate water.68 (p See Sidebar 5.) By early 2015, at least 70 solar PV plants larger than 50 MW were operating in at least 14 countries.69 The top 10 were all in China, India, and the United States, where the world’s largest plants— Topaz Solar and Desert Sunlight (each 550 MW)—went on line in late 2014 and early 2015.70 The world’s 50 biggest plants reached cumulative capacity approaching 7.1 GW by early 2015 and accounted for about 4% of global capacity.71 At least 17 of these came on line (or achieved full capacity) in 2014 and early 2015, including one (100 MW) in Chile and six plants (totalling over 500 MW) in South Africa, representing the largest solar PV plants on their respective continents.72 China added 160 MW to its hybrid solar PV-hydro plant in Qinghai Province.73 Globally, the total capacity of projects of 4 MW and larger increased an estimated 65%, to 35.9 GW, with capacity split fairly evenly among Asia, Europe, and North America.74 By the end of 2014, large-scale projects were completed or under construction in several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Russia.75 Even as the share of utility-scale projects increased, utilities in several countries continued to push back against the expansion of distributed solar PV, due to concerns about a shrinking customer base and lost revenue. In many US states, debates continued over net metering laws and rate design; in Australia, major utilities concerned about their future business models acted to slow or halt the advance of solar PV; in Japan, utilities curbed access to the grid; and, in Europe, discussions continued aboutretailtariffdesigninthecontextofincreasingdecentralised generation (including growing shares of self-consumption).76 However, many utilities in these countries and elsewhere have expanded their roles in developing and operating solar PV.77 Community-owned solar PV projects are emerging with a variety of models in an increasing number of countries, including Australia, Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Thailand, which has a community solar target under its national FIT.78 US community solar gardens, which sell power to local utilities in exchange for monthly credits to investors, continued to spread in 2014, and several US states actively promote community solar.79 Community-owned micro-utilities relying on solar PV also are becoming more common in developing countries.80 The market for concentrating PV (CPV)—which includes an optical system to focus large areas of sunlight onto each cell—is young and remains small, but there is interest in niche markets due greatly to higher efficiency levels in locations with high direct normal insolation and low moisture.81 The key countries are Australia, China, Italy, South Africa, and the United States, with small plants (1–2 MW) operating in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries.82 An estimated 70 MW of capacity was installed from January through November 2014, including South Africa’s 44 MW Touwsrivier Plant.83 By late 2014, global capacity totalled at least 330 MW.84 Several large plants (20 MW and larger) were under construction, although plans for even larger facilities were scrapped or suspended.85 Solar PV is starting to play a substantial role in electricity generation in some countries, meeting by year’s end an estimated 7.9% of annual electricity demand in Italy, 7.6% in Greece, and 7% in Germany.86 By the end of 2014, Europe had enough solar PV capacity to meet an estimated 3.5% of total consumption (up from 0.3% in 2008) and 7% of peak demand; global capacity in operation was enough to produce at least 200 TWh of electricity per year.87

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