Solar energy was by far the most important new source of power generation technology worldwide in 2019. No other energy source was responsible for more new installations than solar modules.
Solar panels accounted for 45 percent of the world’s newly added electricity generating capacity during last calendar year, according to researchers of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
118 gigawatt peak
According to the researchers, 118 gigawatt peak of PV plants were installed worldwide. Solar energy was the most popular technology in a third of the countries.
The BNEF report ‘Power Transition Trends 2020’ highlights the tremendous progress that solar energy has made in a decade, from just 43.7 gigawatt peak in total installed capacity in 2010 to 651 gigawatt peak by the end of 2019. Solar energy also passed wind energy (644 gigawatts) and became the fourth largest source of power on a capacity basis, behind coal (2,089 gigawatts), gas (1,812 gigawatts) and hydro (1,160 gigawatts).
“Sharp declines in the cost of solar energy, particularly the solar panels placed on roofs and in fields, have made this technology widely available to homes, businesses and power grids,” says Luiza Demôro, BNEF analyst and lead author of the study. “Solar power is now truly ubiquitous and a global phenomenon.”
Based on energy generation, the contribution of solar energy is considerably smaller due to the lower capacity factors of solar power compared to fossil fuels. In 2019, solar energy accounted for 2.7 percent of the electricity generated worldwide, compared to 0.16 percent 10 years ago. Given the low-cost nature of solar technology, BNEF researchers expect the market to continue to grow, with 140 to 178 gigawatts of new PV power to be installed in 2022.