The global cumulative capacity of solar PV passed the 100GW mark last year, according to analysis by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
Figures published by the body reveal some 30GW of new capacity was connected in 2012, roughly equalling 2011, a record year for the global PV industry.
The global total now stands at 101GW, with a further 1-2GW possible once final figures for 2012 come in, EPIA said.
The fact global installations in 2012 did not increase substantially more than in 2011 reflects the problems faced by the industry last year with an over-supply of polysilicon and trade disputes between a number of the world’s major trading blocs.
EPIA President Winfried Hoffmann said: “No one would have predicted even 10 years ago that we would see more than 100 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity in the world by 2012.
“The photovoltaic industry clearly faces challenges but the results of 2012 show there is a strong global market for our technology. Even in tough economic times and despite growing regulatory uncertainty, we have nearly managed to repeat the record year of 2011.”
The figures also show a shift towards a more global PV market, with 13GW of installations built outside of Europe compared to just under 8GW in 2011. In Europe the 23GW installed in 2011 fell to 17GW last year.
The top three European PV markets in 2012 were Germany (with 7.6GW), Italy (3.3GW) and France (1.2GW).
The top three non-European markets were China (with at least 3.5GW and possibly as much as 4.5GW), the US (3.2GW) and Japan (2.5GW).
Hoffmann said: “The key going forward will be to address these new market challenges and continue policies that help PV technology to grow sustainably, continuing its evolution to a mainstream electricity source.”