Solar PV Capacity Additions Reach Record High, China Leads Surge

By Editor


In a groundbreaking revelation, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has highlighted a remarkable surge in global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity additions, soaring by over 80 percent between 2022 and 2023. The report underscores a seismic shift towards renewable energy sources, with solar power leading the charge.

China emerges as the dominant player in this paradigm shift, accounting for over 80 percent of the global increase in solar PV capacity additions. Despite the discontinuation of central government subsidies for utility, commercial, and industrial-scale applications, China witnessed a staggering 2.5-fold growth in solar PV deployment. Remarkably, the nation contributed a groundbreaking 62 percent of global additions, buoyed by rapid manufacturing expansion resulting in a 50 percent reduction in PV module costs since December 2022. This reduction has significantly enhanced the competitiveness of solar PV against provincial benchmark electricity prices, predominantly reliant on coal power generation.

Meanwhile, in the European Union (EU), annual solar PV additions surged by a quarter, reaching a historic 52 GW in the past year. The EU member states intensified efforts to accelerate renewables deployment in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, aiming to mitigate reliance on natural gas. Consequently, annual solar PV additions nearly doubled since 2021, with consumers swiftly embracing rooftop solar PV installations to counter soaring retail electricity prices amidst the energy crisis.

The United States witnessed a 50 percent increase in solar PV capacity additions year-on-year, following the resolution of supply chain issues that hampered growth in 2022. Federal tax incentives and state-level support continued to propel both utility-scale and rooftop solar PV applications.

In contrast, India experienced a dip in solar PV additions, recording 12 GW in 2023, one-third lower than the previous year. This decline can be attributed to reduced competitive auction volumes for utility-scale solar projects and lingering supply chain disruptions. On the other hand, Brazil’s solar PV additions surged by over 20 percent year-on-year, driven by a robust net metering scheme incentivizing rooftop solar PV installations, surpassing India’s capacity additions in 2023.

The global deployment of solar PV between 2019 and 2023 has led to a significant reduction in annual CO2 emissions, estimated at around 1.1 billion tonnes (Gt), equivalent to Japan’s total annual emissions. Notably, China stands out as the primary contributor to emissions reduction, with solar PV capacity additions averting over 600 Mt of CO2 emissions. In Australia and New Zealand, solar PV deployment during the same period mitigated emissions equivalent to 10 percent of the region’s total annual energy emissions in 2023, underscoring the pivotal role of solar energy in combating climate change.

Baburajan Kizhakedath

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