Solar PV soars across 2023

December 1, 2023

Back in June 2023, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a compelling Renewable Energy Market Update, offering a detailed look into the global landscape of renewable energy. Amidst an impressive overall rise of nearly 13% in renewable energy capacity additionals, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology emerged as the star performer, shattering records with annual capacity additions of almost 220 GW - a staggering 35% increase from 2021. 

The mid-2023 update from the IEA reveals a pivotal moment for solar PV technology, with an unprecedented 220 GW added to global capacity in the past year alone. This remarkable surge, marking a 35% increase from the previous year, underscores the growing global commitment to harnessing solar energy as a cornerstone of the renewable energy transition.The report paints a vivid picture of solar PV not just as a technology but as a driving force propelling the world towards a more sustainable and cleaner energy future.

This increased growth in annual PV capacity is predominantly attributed to the steadfast efforts of China and the European Union. Both economic powerhouses have shown unwavering commitment and dedication to expanding solar energy infrastructure, thereby playing pivotal roles in the global surge of solar PV capacity. China’s continuous expansion efforts, coupled with the ambitious renewable energy targets of the European Union, underscore the collaborative nature of the international community in driving solar PV to new heights.

The report further illuminates the dynamics of the global PV market, revealing that annual PV growth witnessed an upswing in all major markets except the United States, which experienced a contraction of nearly 15%. The challenges faced by the United States, attributed to supply chain disruptions and rising costs, underscore the delicate balance between market dynamics and sustained growth. Nevertheless, the report emphasises the resilience and adaptability of the solar PV market on a global scale, with positive trajectories observed across diverse markets. 

While solar PV has basked in the spotlight, hydropower emerged as the second-largest contributor to the global expansion of renewable energy capacity. The commissioning of multiple large projects, especially across Asia, propelled hydropower to its highest capacity additions since 2016. Though not breaking records, the continuous expansion of hydropower in China played a crucial role in elevating global hydropower capacity, showcasing the diversity inherent in the renewable energy energy landscape. 

The mid-2023 Renewable Energy Market Update from the IEA provides a comprehensive snapshot of the impressive strides made in renewable energy capacity additions globally. The record-breaking performance of solar PV, with a 35% increase in annual capacity additions, reflects a world increasingly prioritising sustainable energy solutions. As China and the European Union lead the solar revolution, the report underscores the need for continued international collaboration to overcome challenges faced by individual markets, as seen in the United States. With hydropower contributing significantly to the renewable energy mix, the mid-2023 report paints a promising trajectory toward a cleaner, more sustainable energy future on a global scale.

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