The Year of Solar PV: Record-breaking Capacity Additions in 2022
“Renewable energy is no longer a niche. Fossil fuel owners are holding assets that are not delivering a return of capital, let alone a return on capital.” – Jeremy Grantham
In 2022, amidst global geopolitical tensions, an unpredictable economic landscape, and persistently high energy prices, one renewable energy technology outperformed all others, solidifying its position as the world’s leading clean energy solution – Solar Photovoltaic (PV).
Solar PV: A Rising Star Amidst Challenging Times
According to the Renewable Energy Market Update by the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy capacity additions rose by almost 13% to nearly 340 GW in 2022. However, solar PV was the only technology that managed to break its previous deployment record last year, with net additions of nearly 220 GW, marking a significant 35% increase from 2021.
|Technology||Net additions in 2022 (GW)|
Solar PV growth was witnessed in all major markets, except for the United States, where capacity additions shrank almost 15% due to supply chain challenges and rising costs. Expansions in China and the European Union alone accounted for over 85% of the growth in annual PV capacity additions. Meanwhile, hydropower made the next-largest contribution to global renewable energy expansion, with significant projects commissioned across Asia.
Not all Sunshines for other Renewable Technologies
While solar PV celebrated a record year, other renewable technologies faced a more turbulent time. Wind power capacity additions decreased for the past two consecutive years. The 2022 slump was primarily due to Covid-related restrictions that delayed project commissioning in China, resulting in a drop in annual additions.
Simultaneously, bioenergy production for power generation also experienced a decline due to the phaseout of subsidies in China, the world’s largest market. For geothermal and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies, global annual market growth remained small but stable as policy support is concentrated in just a few countries.
The Future is Bright for Solar PV
Looking ahead, the outlook for solar PV appears promising, with the IEA predicting that the deployment of new renewable electricity installations will break records in both 2023 and 2024. This comes on the back of strong and continuous policy support as well as high electricity prices, which are increasing the economic attractiveness of distributed PV systems.
As we move towards a cleaner, more sustainable future, the remarkable growth and resilience of solar PV in these uncertain times is a testament to the critical role it will play in our global energy mix. The year 2022 may have been the year of Solar PV, but the trajectory suggests that this was not a one-off event, but rather the beginning of a long reign for solar PV as the king of renewable energy technologies.