SolarPower Europe released its flagship publication, the Global Market Outlook, providing market intelligence for the global solar sector for 2020 and forecasting capacity for 2021–2025.
The study found that despite the continued impact of COVID-19, a massive 138.2 gigawatts (GW) of solar was installed in 2020, representing an 18 per cent increase compared to 2019, yet another global annual installation record for the global solar PV sector.
“Solar’s growth confirmed its dominance among all newly installed power generation technologies, reaching a 39 per cent global share, which means that more than every third power plant installed in 2020 came from solar,” said Aristotelis Chantavas, President of SolarPower Europe.
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. In 2020, 18 countries added over 1 GW of solar, compared to 17 in 2019 and 11 in 2018, proving that solar is continuing its growth trajectory. 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, according to the report.
“The message from this Global Market Outlook is crystal clear: a solar-powered future is well on the way. In order to remain on this path we need to ensure the right permitting processes for smooth development and the right regulatory frameworks for electrification and renewables integration,” concluded the President of SolarPower Europe.
Market projections put the global solar sector comfortably within the Terawatt scale by 2022 and under optimal conditions, reaching 2 TW by 2025.
“Solar surprised us yet again,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, explaining that last year, even the most optimistic market analysts were forecasting a market decline and yet solar proved its resilience and unstoppable growth trajectory.
Most countries performed far better than expected, driven by solar’s historic cost-competitiveness and versatility. The top 5 solar markets in 2020 were China with 48.2 GW of new installations, the US with 19.2 GW, Vietnam with 11.6 GW, Japan with 8.2 GW and Australia with 5.1 GW.
According to Ms Hemetsberger, the future looks even brighter for solar.
“We now 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,” she added.
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 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.
“Indeed, by next year we anticipate the global solar market increase by 25 per cent to 203 GW, the first time annual PV installations will cross the 200 GW level,” commented Michael Schmela, Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe.
“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,” added Mr Schmela.
However, he reminded that 70 per cent of global power still comes from non-renewable polluting energy, which requires more ambition from policymakers to enable the industry to accelerate deployment to fulfil the complete potential of solar and meet the Paris Agreement targets.