Global Market Outlook: A solar-powered future is well on the way!

Over the summer, SolarPower Europe published its flagship publication, our Global Market Outlook for Solar Power. The report provides market intelligence for the global solar sector for 2020 and forecasts capacity for 2021-2025. The report shows that despite the continued impact of COVID-19, solar surprised us yet again by exceeding all expectations and setting a new installation record. A massive 138.2 GW of solar was installed in 2020, representing an 18% increase compared to 2019!

Another significant milestone from 2020 was the fact that the global cumulative solar capacity reached 773.2 GW, exceeding three quarters of a terawatt for the first time ever. Our market projections put the global solar sector comfortably within the Terawatt scale by 2022, and under optimal conditions, reaching 2 TW by 2025.

More good news: Solar confirmed its dominance among all newly installed power generation technologies, reaching a 39% global share, which means that more than every third power plant installed in 2020 came from solar.

More GW-markets. In 2020, 18 countries added over 1 GW of solar, compared to 17 in 2019, and 11 in 2018.The next four years will see more solar installed than previously anticipated, crossing the 200 GW annual installation level by 2022, and reaching 29 markets around the world adding more than 1 GW by 2023.

Our forecast are bright. We expect new annual installed capacities to reach 266 GW in 2025 in our medium-ambition scenario. To put this into perspective, only six years ago, in 2015, this was the world’s total installed solar power generation fleet. The Global Market Outlook forecasts cumulative grid-connected solar power capacities to reach 1,870 GW by 2025, according to the most likely scenario. Under optimal conditions, the world could operate solar PV generation plant capacities as large as 2.147 TW by the end of 2025. In the Medium Scenario, it is expected that total global installed PV generation capacity will pass the following milestones over the next 5 years: 900 GW in 2021, 1.1 TW in 2022, 1.3 TW in 2023, 1.6 TW in 2024, and 1.8 TW in 2025.

We expect the next four years to be extremely strong for the global solar sector. Indeed, by next year we anticipate the global solar market increase by 25% to 203 GW, the first time annual PV installations will cross the 200 GW level. This is particularly impressive considering that crossing the 200 GW threshold in 2022 would occur only five years after the 100 GW level was reached. With COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing, and silicon supply issues resolved, the coming years will be sure to see many solar installation records broken.

While it is certainly a cause for celebration that solar keeps surprising us with larger installation numbers, considering the fact that 70% of global power still comes from non-renewable polluting energy, we need much more ambition from policymakers to enable the industry to accelerate deployment, to fulfil the complete potential of solar and meet the Paris Agreement targets. Let’s gear up and make it a solar decade!

Photo copyright: (c) Enel Green Power

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