Solar Power Capacity Rose 54% to 28 Gigawatts Last Year

New solar energy capacity around the world increased 54 percent to about 28 gigawatts last year driven by record installations in Germany and Italy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data shows.

Photovoltaic installations rose to between 26.5 and 29.4 gigawatts last year, compared with 18.2 gigawatts during 2010, said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at the London-based research company.

New spending on solar energy jumped 36 percent to $136.6 billion in 2011, outpacing the $74.9 billion put into wind power, and represented almost half of all renewable energy investment worldwide last year, BNEF said in a statement yesterday. Those figures also include concentrated solar thermal power facilities, which use mirrors to heat fluid that turns turbines.