Solar by far the Leading Power Generating Tech Installed in 2019: BNEF

A new report has revealed that solar PV dominated as the main new power-generating technology source added to grids around the world in 2019.

Solar 2019

A new report has revealed that solar photovoltaics (PV) dominated as the main new power-generating technology source added to grids in dozens of countries ranging from Australia, to India, Italy, Namibia, Uruguay and the US in 2019. With a record 118 gigawatts (GW) constructed, solar PV topped all other technologies in new-build terms and was the most popular technology deployed in a third of all nations.

According to data compiled by research company BloombergNEF (BNEF), 81 countries built at least 1 megawatt (MW) of solar during the last calendar year while the power technology accounted for nearly half of all new power generation capacity constructed worldwide.

The report goes on to highlight the enormous strides solar has made in a decade, rising from just 43.7 GW of total capacity installed in 2010 to 651 GW as of year-end 2019. During the last year, it also moved past wind (644 GW) to become the fourth largest source of power in the world – on a capacity basis – behind coal (2,089 GW), gas (1,812 GW), and hydro (1,160 GW).

Together, there is now more wind and solar capacity online worldwide than total capacity from all technologies, clean or dirty, in the US.

“Sharp declines in solar equipment costs, namely the modules that go on rooftops and in fields, have made this technology widely available for homes, businesses and grids,” said Luiza Demôro, BNEF analyst and lead author of the study. “PV is now truly ubiquitous and a worldwide phenomenon.”

Moving ahead of capacity installations, on a generation basis – the report finds that solar’s contributions are considerably smaller due to PV’s lower capacity factors compared to fossil fuels. It has revealed that in 2019, solar accounted for 2.7 percent of electricity generated worldwide – up from 0.16 percent a decade ago.

Given the inexpensive nature of the technology and the limited penetration on a generation basis, the report expects the market to continue to grow, with 140-178 GW of new solar capacity to be built in 2022.

The report also goes on to add that from 2018 to 2019, power produced from coal dropped 3 percent as plants ran less frequently. This marked the first fall in coal generation since 2014-2015 and while the world has far more coal plants online today than a decade ago, those plants are running less often.

Other key findings:

  • Wind and solar accounted for over two-thirds of the 265 GW of new capacity installed worldwide in 2019, up from less than a quarter of new build in 2010. Including hydro power, renewables made up three-fourths of 2019 commissioned capacity.
  • For the first time, the two technologies (solar and wind) also accounted for the majority of new generation recorded in a year – 2019.
  • BNEF estimates that the global power sector CO2 emissions slipped 1.5 percent 2018-2019 as declines in the U.S. and EU more than offset an increase from China, which accounted for 37 percent of the 2019 total.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for