The global wind and solar industries are big business that installed a total of 76,000 megawatts of generation capacity just in 2012. Wind, however, substantially led solar last year by installing 46,000 megawatts to solar's 30,000.
But surging solar capacity and a dip in wind installations may mean that solar will install more generation around the world than wind for the first time ever during 2013, according to BNEF.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that the global solar industry will install 36,700 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2013, while the wind industry's new capacity will total 33,800 megawatts. If the Bloomberg forecast is accurate, it will be another milestone for solar power.
While 2013 is shaping up to be best year ever for solar, this year may see a decrease in the combined amount of wind and solar installed from 76,000 in 2012 to 70,500 megawatts installed this year. Both numbers, nonetheless, are big. For example, they are 3 to 4 times the total amount of new electric generating capacity that is typically built in the USA each year.
While solar may install more generating capacity this year, even if the BNEF projection is correct, the 2013 new wind generation will generate more electricity than the 2013 new solar capacity, because wind has higher capacity factors on average than solar systems. Indeed, though lower in total, the 2013 new wind capacity may generate about 50% more power than the 2013 new solar capacity.
One must remember that not every megawatt of power generation produces the same amount of actual electricity power.