‘Every third power plant’ installed in 2020 was solar

Technology reaches a 39% global share finds SolarPower Europe’s Global Outlook Report [Image: Chelsea/Unsplash]

Every third power plant installed in 2020 was solar, with the technology reaching a 39% global share, according to a new report by SolarPower Europe.

The ‘Global Outlook Report’ also found that last year the global solar power sector saw 138.2GW of new installations.

This represents a year-on-year growth of 18% and a global annual installation record for the sector.
Another significant milestone from 2020 was that the global cumulative solar capacity reached 773.2GW, exceeding three quarters of a terawatt for the first time ever.

The top five solar markets in 2020 were China with 48.2GW of new installations, the US with 19.2GW, Vietnam with 11.6GW, Japan with 8.2GW, and Australia with 5.1GW.

SolarPower Europe projections forecast that PV is on track to add 163GW in 2021, 203GW in 2022, 225GW in 2023, 239GW in 2024, and 266GW in 2025.

According to the report’s medium-ambition scenario, we expect that total global solar capacity will pass the following milestones over the next five years: 900GW in 2021, 1.1TW in 2022, 1.3TW in 2023, 1.6TW in 2024, and 1.8TW in 2025.

Under optimal conditions, the world could operate a solar fleet as large as 2.1 TW by the end of 2025.

SolarPower Europe president Aristotelis Chantavas said: “The past year was a record-setting one for the global solar sector, and despite the difficulties arising from COVID-19, solar remains on a strong and steady path.

“Solar’s growth 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.

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“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.”

In 2020, 18 countries added over 1GW 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 200GW annual installation level by 2022, and reaching 29 markets around the world adding more than 1GW by 2023.

SolarPower Europe chief executive Walburga Hemetsberger said: “Solar surprised us yet again by exceeding all expectations to set a new installation record, despite the severe consequences of Covid-19.

“Last year, even the most optimistic market analysts were forecasting a market decline, and yet solar proved its resilience and unstoppable growth trajectory by growing 18%.

“Most countries performed far better than expected, driven by solar’s historic cost-competitiveness and versatility.

“In a year defined by unpredictability, solar offered a sense of security and control.

“The good news coming out of this year’s GMO is that the future looks even brighter for solar.

“We now expect new annual installed capacities to reach 266GW 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.”

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