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Worldwide growth of photovoltaics has been fitting an exponential curve for more than two decades.During this period of time, photovoltaics (PV), also known as solar PV, has evolved from a pure niche market of small scale applications towards becoming a mainstream electricity source.In 2014, Asia was the fastest growing region, with more than 60% of global installations.China and Japan alone accounted for 20 GW or half of worldwide deployment.When solar PV systems were first recognized as a promising renewable energy technology, programs, such as feed-in tariffs, were implemented by a number of governments in order to provide economic incentives for investments.For several years, growth was mainly driven by Japan and pioneering European countries.
Official agencies, such as the International Energy Agency consistently increased their estimates over the years, but still fell short of actual deployment.
Current status describes worldwide, regional and domestic solar PV deployment as of the end of 2014 (see section Forecast for 2015).
The unit of power, watt, is frequently used as multiples, such as kilowatt (k W), megawatt (MW), gigawatt (GW) and terawatt (TW).
In 2014, cumulative photovoltaic capacity increased by 40.1 GW or 28% and reached at least 178 GW by the end of the year, sufficient to supply 1 percent of the world's total electricity consumption of currently 18,400 TWh.
Although this represents a new all-time record in the history of global PV deployment, overall expectations had been higher as module shipments amounted to 44–46 GW and suggested higher overall installations.