Global Solar Installations Reached 138.2 GW in 2020

Highlights :

  • Despite the continued impact of COVID-19, a massive 138.2 GW of solar was installed in 2020, representing an 18% increase compared to 2019, finds a new report by SolarPower Europe.
  • The study also found that the global cumulative solar capacity reached 773.2 GW, exceeding three quarters of a terawatt for the first time ever, in 2020.

Despite the continued impact of COVID-19, a massive 138.2 GW of solar was installed in 2020, representing an 18% increase compared to 2019, in yet another global annual installation record for the global solar PV sector, finds a new report by SolarPower Europe.

SolarPower Europe, the new EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association), has released its new Global Market Outlook report. The member-led association, which represents organisations active along the whole value chain, aims to shape the regulatory environment and enhance business opportunities for solar power in Europe.

The new report provides market intelligence for the global solar sector for 2020, and forecasts capacity for 2021–2025. The study has found that the global cumulative solar capacity reached 773.2 GW, exceeding three quarters of a terawatt for the first time ever, in 2020. Market projections put the global solar sector comfortably within the Terawatt scale by 2022, and under optimal conditions, reaching 2 TW by 2025.

This was made possible by 138.2 GW of installations in 2020, representing an 18% y-o-y growth, which is a global annual installation record for the sector.

Aristotelis Chantavas, President of SolarPower Europe, said, “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.”

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, predicts the report.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said, “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.”

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.

Michael Schmela, Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, commented, “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.”

The Global Market Outlook is the flagship publication of SolarPower Europe. Produced inhouse by SolarPower Europe’s market intelligence team and with the support of its members and the Global Solar Council, the report provides forecasts on solar market developments and trends for the coming 5 years. This year’s edition has a special focus on off-grid solar to show how small-scale, C&I and mini-grids are a thriving GW-scale market with two-digit growth rates for the coming years.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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