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Global solar installations power to new high

13 Jun 2023

SolarPower Europe says that massive increase in deployments in 2022 will continue this year and beyond.

The world installed 239 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) generating capacity in 2022 - up 45 per cent on the figure for 2021, with the rapid rate of growth expected to continue through 2030.

That’s according to figures in the latest market report by SolarPower Europe, whose analysts also highlighted a boom in rooftop installations. They rose nearly 50 per cent in 2022, accounting for 118 GW of the newly added capacity.

"2022 will be remembered as the year when solar deployment, driven by soaring energy prices, supply chain stabilization, and post-pandemic recovery programs, entered a new growth dimension,” states the latest Global Market Outlook for Solar Power, produced in partnership with the US-based Global Solar Council.

China pushes PV growth
China led the way in 2022, accounting for close 100 GW of installations, more than 40 per cent of the global total, and up sharply from 55 GW in 2021.

“China doubled-down on its position as the market leader in 2022, installing more than four times as much solar PV capacity as the second-largest market, the US,” states the report, with further growth anticipated.

“2023 will also be a key year in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan,” add the SolarPower Europe analysts. “The country will concentrate on consolidating the advantages of the PV industry and expanding the supply of clean, low-carbon energy.

“There will be an overall push for China to transition to low-carbon energy, both at the local and national level.”

With over 1.2 TW of PV now installed worldwide, it means that solar power should generate some 1,612 TWh of renewable electricity globally over the course of 2023.

Commenting on the latest findings, SolarPower Europe’s president Aristotelis Chantavas said: “The world has realized that fossil fuel crises are the crises that never really go away. More than ever before, people in every part of the world are turning to solar. In a year defined by energy and climate crisis, solar hope continues to shine through.”

Growing optimism
The latest market report follows SolarPower Europe’s findings last December, when it reported that installations in European Union countries were likely to rise nearly 50 per cent, partly because of the impact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had had on gas prices.

However, even though gas prices have now fallen back close to pre-invasion levels, the current momentum in solar PV looks set to continue. SolarPower Europe’s updated market outlook predicts that somewhere between 341 GW and 402 GW will be added this year, equivalent to market growth of between 43 per cent and 68 per cent.

“Our growing optimism is rooted in solar’s new position as a key actor on the geopolitical energy map,” stated the organization in the conclusions of its latest report.

“Despite temporary product price increases stemming from the supply chain issue during the pandemic, solar still surpassed fossil fuels and nuclear energy in unsubsidised investment cases throughout 2022.

“This cost advantage is expected to improve again now that issues in product supply and logistics have been largely overcome.”

SolarPower Europe also points out that the International Energy Agency (IEA) - whose market forecasts have typically underestimated renewables investment - now expects about $380 billion to be invested into solar PV in 2023, representing a higher total than oil for the first time.

Grid bottlenecks
Despite the positive outlook, SolarPower Europe said that key challenges remain - including limited grid capacity, and a lack of flexibility or storage in national electricity systems.

“Out of the 26 significant solar countries, 20 report grid bottlenecks as a key barrier to solar development,” it points out.

Michael Schmela, Director of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, added: “Grids and flexibility are the sleeping giant of the energy transition - and the giant is waking up.

“We’re installing huge amounts of solar, and we need to be able to use it, when we need it. Governments around the world must make upgrading their electricity and storage infrastructure a political priority.”

The latest additions mean that PV now meets 4.5 per cent of global electricity demand, with more than 70 per cent still provided by non-renewable sources.

CeNing Optics Co LtdBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationABTechIridian Spectral TechnologiesLASEROPTIK GmbHCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.LaCroix Precision Optics
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