Solar Power Taking Bigger Share in the Global Energy Market

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In the ever-evolving quest for sustainable and clean energy, solar power has emerged not just as a viable option but as a fundamental cornerstone for the future of global energy. As the most widely available energy resource on Earth, solar electricity generation distinguishes itself with a minimal carbon footprint, making it a leading technology for large-scale use that can help reduce climate change risks. This has led to a huge increase in solar power capacity around the world, moving us towards the goal of using solar energy on a massive scale for a greener future. 

Global Solar Energy System Market Value 

The market for solar energy has witnessed a transformative period of growth, with installed capacity reaching new heights and technological advancements driving down costs while enhancing performance. The global solar power market is currently growing at a 12.17% CAGR with the market value projected to more than double from USD 183.7 billion in 2022 to USD 460.5 billion by 2030, based on data from 360iResearch. This surge is underpinned by a record-breaking year where renewable capacity additions rose by almost 50% to nearly 510 GW, with solar PV leading the charge, particularly in markets like China. Furthermore, the daily investment in solar deployment surpassing USD 1 billion signifies the scale of global commitment and the industry's vibrant potential for further growth, mirroring the optimistic solar energy industry outlook.

Chart Global Solar Energy Market Size (USD Million) (2018-2030)Source: Statzon/ 360iResearch

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Installed Capacity of Solar Power

In the early 2000s, solar energy's contribution to global electricity was almost negligible, accounting for a mere 0.15% of total electricity generation. However, as the years progressed, the contribution of solar power began to rise steadily. 

The installed solar capacity, which is the maximum power output possible under ideal conditions, escalated from 1.23 gigawatts (GW) in 2000 to a monumental 1053.11 GW by 2022.  

In 2022, global new solar installations hit 239 GW, crossing the terawatt threshold for the first time. This marked a 45% increase in solar power capacity compared to the previous year. Bloomberg estimates a new record with 413 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations expected in 2023, with mainland China playing a significant role in this surge. 

This rapid growth of installed capacity reflects the world's increasing ability to harness solar energy on a large scale, driven by technological advancements, cost reductions, and a global commitment to reducing carbon emissions. 

Electricity generated from solar energy, measured in terawatt-hours (TWh), represents the actual amount of electric power that solar installations produce over time. This figure has seen an even more remarkable increase, going from 32.08 TWh in the early 2000s to 1310.02 TWh by 2022. The year-on-year growth in this period highlights the improving efficiency and reliability of solar technology. 

Chart Global Electricity Generated From Solar (TWh) (2000-2022)Source: Our World in Data

The disparity between the two measurements—installed capacity and actual electricity generated—lies in various factors. Installed capacity is the theoretical maximum that could be produced under perfect conditions, but actual generation is influenced by the availability of sunlight, which varies by geography, time of day, and weather conditions. Moreover, the efficiency of solar panels and the operational considerations of solar plants can affect how much of that installed capacity is converted into electricity. 

Throughout the years, solar energy's share of the total global electricity generation has surged, reflecting its increasing integration into the energy grid. From the humble beginnings of 0.15% in the early 2000s, solar power's contribution to the electricity mix has grown to 4.57% by 2022. This growth has been particularly remarkable in the last several years, a sign of growing confidence in solar power as a reliable and substantial source of electricity. 

Solar Power in the Renewable Energy Mix

How much renewable energy do we have in our energy mix? From the early 2000s, where renewables contributed merely 18.91% to the global electricity mix, we've seen an upward trajectory, reaching 29.5% by 2022. 

In early 2000, hydropower was the undisputed leader of the renewable sector, comprising about 90% of the renewable energy mix and contributing to 17% of the total global electricity production. Fast forward to the present, and while the landscape of renewable energy has evolved, hydropower still maintains a significant presence, representing around 15% of the total energy mix. 

The rise of other renewable energies has been striking, particularly for solar and wind power, which have grown not only in capacity but also in technological sophistication. Solar power, which once barely registered in global statistics, now commands around 4.5% of the total energy mix. The third source of renewable energy after hydropower and wind energy that makes up 7.3% of the total energy mix. 

Infographic Global Electricity Sources 2022

Within the renewable energy sector itself, hydropower, remains the biggest player, providing more than half of all the clean energy we produce. As of 2022, it's responsible for 51% of it. Solar panels now give us 15% of our renewable energy, showing just how much this technology has grown. Wind turbines are creating 25% of our renewable energy. Bioenergy, which comes from biomass, chips in another 8%, while other renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy, adds 1%. 

Global Renewable Electricity Sources 2022

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Declining Cost of Solar Energy Systems

The declining costs of solar energy systems and their components over the past decade have been a driving force in the renewable energy transition. The cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power has seen a dramatic reduction, falling by 89% from 2010 to 2022. This decline has been consistent and significant, with solar PV module prices dropping by around 30-40% in 2023 alone, thanks to various factors including supply-demand imbalances in China and an expansion of manufacturing capacities. 

Battery costs, which are essential for storing solar energy to ensure a stable and consistent supply, have also decreased substantially. From 2008 to 2022, the costs for batteries fell by about 90%, mirroring the reductions seen in solar PV technologies. 

Despite this overall trend, there have been some variations. In 2023, for example, the cost of residential solar PV systems decreased, benefiting from technological advances and policy measures like the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, which provided tax incentives for clean energy technologies. However, the costs for utility-scale solar systems have seen a slight increase due to higher prices for components like inverters and labor, as well as the electrical balance of system costs. 

Globally, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from newly commissioned utility-scale solar PV fell by 3% from 2021 to 2022, despite rising material and equipment costs, indicating that solar power continues to become more competitive even in the face of broader economic pressures. Solar power has become cheaper than wind in many regions of the United States, with power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar now often costing less than those for wind power. 

The Solar Energy System Market by Technology 

Within the vast array of solar energy technologies, photovoltaic (PV) systems clearly lead the pack. In 2022 alone, they generated about 1300 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, highlighting their critical role in the shift towards renewable energy. Their standout features include not only efficiency and scalability but also significant technological advancements that have drastically reduced costs. This combination has made PV systems both more affordable and widely used, establishing them as the primary choice for solar energy. Reflecting this leadership, the market value of PV systems was USD 95.76 billion in 2022, with projections indicating a rise to USD 262.99 billion by 2030, achieving a CAGR of 12.59%, the highest among the segments. 

In contrast, concentrated solar power (CSP) occupies a specialized yet crucial space within the solar energy field. Although its 2020 electricity output of 14.5 TWh, as reported by the International Energy Agency (IEA), seems small compared to PV, the anticipated increase to over 200 TWh by 2030 underlines its escalating significance. With a market value of USD 56.19 billion in 2022 and an expected growth to USD 122.22 billion by 2030, reflecting a CAGR of 10.16%, CSP is poised to play a significant role in the energy sector. This is largely due to its unique capability for dispatchable power generation and grid stability enhancement through thermal energy storage, despite requiring a higher initial investment than PV systems. 

Solar thermal energy, although smaller in market size with a value of USD 31.79 billion in 2022 and an anticipated increase to USD 75.21 billion by 2030, showcasing a CAGR of 11.00%, remains an indispensable element of the solar energy landscape. This technology enhances the diversity of solar applications by providing solutions for heating and cooling, or even electricity generation under certain setups. While it doesn't match the electricity generation levels of PV systems, solar thermal technology significantly contributes to reducing the reliance on fossil fuels for heating purposes, highlighting the versatile benefits of solar energy. 

Chart Global Solar Energy Systems Market Size, by Technology (USD Million) (2018-2030)Source: Statzon/ 360iResearch

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Rising Demand for Residential Solar Energy Systems 

Initially, solar power was predominantly used in off-grid and low-grid areas as a primary means to generate electricity where traditional power infrastructure was absent or insufficient. This application provided essential power to remote locations, demonstrating the versatility and reliability of solar energy in diverse settings. However, the appeal of solar energy has expanded well beyond these initial applications, becoming increasingly popular among homeowners connected to the grid. This shift is largely motivated by the desire to gain greater control over electricity spending, reduce environmental impact, and enhance energy independence. 

Today, residential solar installations, often complemented by battery storage systems, allow homeowners to not only generate their own electricity but also store surplus energy for later use or sell it back to the grid. This capability has revolutionized the way energy is consumed and produced at the household level, enabling homeowners to significantly reduce their reliance on utility companies and decrease their electricity bills. 

The growth of the residential solar market can be seen by a surge in demand, with the market value projected to rise from USD 33.29 billion in 2022 to USD 87.57 billion by 2030. This expansion is fueled by technological advancements, declining installation costs, and supportive government policies, making solar energy an increasingly accessible and attractive option for a wide range of consumers. 

Chart Global Solar Energy Systems Market Size, by End User (USD Million) (2018-2030)Source: Statzon/ 360iResearch

In the industrial and commercial sectors, the adoption of solar energy systems is driven by a combination of economic and environmental motivations. Businesses and industrial operations are turning to solar power to mitigate their energy expenses and carbon footprints. The commercial solar market, valued at USD 111.44 billion in 2022, is projected to grow to USD 261.29 billion by 2030, and the industrial sector, from USD 39.01 billion in 2022 to USD 111.56 billion by 2030, are both harnessing solar energy to achieve sustainability goals while benefiting from cost savings. Generating electricity on-site not only provides businesses with a hedge against rising energy prices but also enables them to benefit from strategies like peak shaving, which can significantly reduce electricity costs during periods of high demand. 

Solar energy's role in the industrial and commercial sectors is pivotal, as these areas account for a significant portion of global energy consumption. The industrial sector, for example, was responsible for 33% of total U.S. energy consumption and 35% of Europe's total electricity consumption in 2022. By integrating solar power, these sectors can significantly reduce their environmental impact while ensuring a stable and cost-effective energy supply. 

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Source: Statzon, IEA (1), IEA (2), IRENA, Bloomberg NEF, Our World in Data (1), Our World in Data (2),, SolarPower Europe, CleanTechnica,


Powering the Future: Megatrends in the Energy   Step into the future of energy with our insightful guide, "Powering the Future: Megatrends in Energy." Discover the drive towards renewables like solar and wind, the shift to decentralized power, and the leap into digital energy management. Unravel the potential of autonomous grids and innovative carbon capture in our quest for sustainability.

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