The globally installed capacity of solar has been rapidly ascending from the past 10 years, and the additional installed capacity of solar had hit a record high in 2019. As pointed out by the report of BNEF, the new installed capacity had arrived at 118GW last year. This has allowed solar to become the fourth largest energy after coal-burning, natural gas, and hydropower.
Retrospecting to how the globally installed capacity of solar in 2010 was at merely 43.7GW, and was accumulated to 651GW in 2019, the power generation ratio of solar has been elevated from 0.16% in the past to 2.7%, and has become one of the preferred energy sources nowadays. Among the new installed capacity of energy in 2019, solar and wind power had occupied 67%, where solar accounted for 45%, and fossil fuel had declined to 25% in comparison.
The existing globally installed capacity of solar has substantially surpassed that of wind power, which is currently at approximately 644GW after a long period of development, though it may take a while before solar catches up to the top 3 of coal-burning at 2,089GW, natural gas at 1,812GW, and hydropower at 1,160GW.
Luiza Demôro, chief author and analyst of BNEF’s report, commented that as the cost of solar modules becomes increasingly low, solar technology is gradually infiltrating our daily lives, with application on household rooftops, enterprises, and electricity provision for power grids. The development of photovoltaic has become a global trend nowadays, and can be seen literally everywhere.
The global power generation of wind and solar power with connected grids has exceeded the total power generation in the US. Looking ahead to the future, BNEF estimates that 2022 will see an additional 140-177GW of solar capacity, after considering the possibility in the continuously reducing cost of solar, and how it is bound by the properties of power generation.
Taiwan has been progressively escalating the ratio of renewable energy in terms of the structure of power generation. According to the data of Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs, the second quarter of 2020 saw an elevation of 3.8% in the ratio of gas-burning power generation, and a reduction of 1.9% in the ratio of coal-burning power generation. The ratio of renewable energy has declined by 0.7% as the conventional hydropower is restricted by climate factors, though the power generation for both photovoltaic and wind power has increased significantly by 59.4% and 65.4% respectively, with the installed capacity rising to 34.9% and 20.1% respectively.
However, due to the low power generation per unit of renewable energy, the volume of power generation remains inferior, despite the annually climbing installed capacity of solar, and the new capacity that has surpassed fossil fuel power plants. Numerous countries and governments had decided to reduce the ratio of coal-burning power generation between 2018 and 2019 in order to reduce carbon emission, resulting in a 3% drop in coal-burning power generation even if there are more coal-burning power plants with grid connection nowadays than 10 years ago, which is the first decline since 2014-2015.
The average utilization rate of coal-burning power plants has been reduced from 57% in 2010 to 50% in 2019, though the fate of coal-burning power plants also depends on their established locations. Ethan Zindler, supervisor of BNEF US, commented that a lot of developed countries are currently expeditiously eliminating coal-burning power plants that are relatively older and possess lower efficiency, since these depleted power plants are no longer capable of competing with new natural gas power plants and renewable energy power plants. However, new coal-burning power plants are able to better satisfy the requirements in local economic development for developing countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/haru__q CC BY-SA 2.0)