Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that for the first time more new solar power capacity -- compared to wind -- will be added to the world's global energy infrastructure this year.
In an BNEF's analysts forecast 36.7GW of new photovoltaic capacity this year, compared to 33.8 GW of new onshore wind farms, and 1.7 GW of offshore wind.
In 2012, wind -- onshore and offshore -- added 46.6 GW, while PV added 30.5GW, record figures in both cases. But in 2013, a slowdown in the world's two largest wind markets, China and the US, is opening the way for the rapidly growing PV market to overtake wind.
"The dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are making possible further, strong growth in volumes," said Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "Europe is a declining market, because many countries there are rapidly moving away from incentives, but it will continue to see new PV capacity added."
Justin Wu, head of wind analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "We forecast that wind installations will shrink by nearly 25% in 2013, to their lowest level since 2008, reflecting slowdowns in the US and China caused by policy uncertainty. However, falling technology costs, new markets and the growth of the offshore industry will ensure wind remains a leading renewable energy technology."
Despite the change in rankings for 2013, the maturing sectors of onshore wind and PV will contribute almost equally to the world's new electricity capacity additions between now and 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
It forecasts that wind (on and offshore) will expand from 5% of the world's total installed power generation capacity in 2012, to 17% in 2030. PV, from a lower base of 2% in 2012, will grow to 16% by 2030.
Furthermore, after years of oversupply and consolidation, technology suppliers in both sectors may see a move back to profit in 2013.
Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: "Cost cuts and a refocusing on profitable markets and business segments have bolstered the financial performance of wind turbine makers and the surviving solar manufacturers. Stock market investors have been noticing this change, and clean energy shares have rebounded by 66% since their lows of July 2012."
Further details on demand and supply in renewable energy's two largest sectors can be found in the third-quarter 2013 Wind and PV Market Outlooks, published this month for clients of Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Insight Service.
A Solar Thermal Electricity Generation Market Outlook will be published in October.