The renewable energy sector (RES) is accelerating growth worldwide. But solar energy is the undisputed leader.
In 2020, 127 GW of solar capacity was commissioned – a historic record. Moreover, China is the undisputed leader in the sector. It accounts for over 35% of the world’s capacity. Moreover, there are no signs of slowing growth in the country. In the PRC, the world’s largest wind and solar project with a capacity of 400 thousand MW is under development.
China is followed by the United States, which recently surpassed 100,000 MW of solar capacity after installing 50,000 MW in the first three months of 2021. This sector in the United States has grown at an impressive 42% annually over the past decade.
It is curious that in Australia, whose solar energy is simply scanty in scale compared to China’s, tops the rating in terms of capacity per capita, which is only 26 million people. Over 30% of Australian households now have solar photovoltaic systems on their rooftops.
In 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2060, and the country is taking steps to achieve that goal. The PRC is a leader in the solar industry, both in installation and in panel fabrication. In 2019, Chinese firms produced 66% of the world’s polysilicon, the raw material for silicon photovoltaic panels. In addition, more than three-quarters of the solar cells and 72% of the photovoltaic panels themselves in the world enter the market from China.
With that said, it’s no surprise that five of the world’s ten largest solar parks are located in China. And solar energy in the PRC is likely to expand rapidly and further as it moves towards carbon neutrality. The energy transition is a major driver of the growth in the use of renewable energy sources. But the increase in solar capacity is partly due to the fact that their creation is constantly getting cheaper.
The cost of solar energy has dropped by 85% over the past ten years, from $ 0.28 to $ 0.04 per kWh. Savings in increasingly large-scale power plants have been a major driver of continued cost reductions, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In other words, as the world installed and produced more solar panels, manufacturing became cheaper and more efficient.