Five graphs on the rise of solar energy development

Five graphs on the rise of solar energy development
Five graphs on the rise of solar energy development



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The deployment of solar power generation capacity has accelerated dramatically between 2022 and 2023: +74% worldwide, the largest annual increase since 2011.

  • In addition to the ecological imperative and the need to electrify applications, one of the main reasons for this increase is the falling cost of solar energy in recent years.
  • As of 2020, one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity produced from hydrocarbons is more expensive than one kWh produced from photovoltaic panels.

Despite the drop in the price of photovoltaic panels and the kilowatt-hour produced, the development of solar energy continues to be highly concentrated in three large regions: Asia (mainly China), Europe and North America.

  • The difference between these last two regions illustrates the gulf that separates them from China: last year, Europe installed twice as much solar energy production capacity as the United States, Mexico and Canada (54 GW versus 26.8).
  • The proportion is similar if all renewable energies are considered.

It is interesting to note that international organizations – mainly the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency – have systematically underestimated the capacity for solar energy deployment since the beginning of the century.

The Ember think-tank points out that solar energy is the technology that has developed the most since the emergence of coal-based industrial capabilities in the 19th century. Solar energy will only have needed 8 years, between 2013 and 2021, to generate 1,000 terawatt hours (TWh), compared to 12 years for wind and 39 for hydraulics.

To meet the goal of tripling global renewable energy capacity agreed at COP 28, the world needs to add 16% new renewable energy capacity annually (compared to the previous year) over the next five years. This rate corresponds to the annual growth for the period 2022-2023.

 
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