Summary: Contrary to concerns at the start of the year, 2022 is expected to have been another boom year for solar, with c. 200 GW of installed capacity, up from c. 150 GW in 2021. And this could just be the beginning. Organisations such as the IEA are forecasting that by 2027 annual net additions will be c. 300 GW pa, taking cumulative solar PV capacity to c. 1,500 GW. Other analysts are even more optimistic, expecting the 300 GW pa level to be hit sooner, and in some cases much sooner. While solar is small now, its going to become a big deal pretty quickly now.
Why this is important: Recent attention has been focused on the need to strengthen our electricity grids to accommodate variable sources of generation, such as renewables. But there are also ways of helping the electricity supply we have go further. This can postpone the need for extra spending AND reduce some of the transition risks.
The big theme: The global energy crisis, combined with the push to net zero, is leading to an acceleration of renewables installations. It is expected that together wind and solar will make up c. 95% of global renewable capacity additions over the next 5 years, with solar contributing an increasing share. By 2030, the two combined could contribute 30% of total generation, up from only just over 10% now. This acceleration in renewable installations is going to bring challenges, in supply chains, in (massive) grid investment, and potentially, in the dependence this exposes on China. These are all nice challenges to have, but one we need to be honest about and start to solve.
Summary of a podcast from Redefining Energy:
It's perhaps a sign of the times that we are referencing a podcast (No 88), rather than a report or a magazine article. Redefining Energy is one of our "go to" podcasts, and this one, which features an interview with Finlay Colville, head of research at PV-Tech and Solar Media, is especially good. You can also read some of his commentary in a recent article he wrote for PVTech.