Rooftop solar capacity shot up by nearly half last year and is increasingly driving a global installation boom, SolarPower Europe said in its latest Global Market Outlook.

The report released ahead of the start of the Intersolar exposition and conference in Munich this week points to a 49%-rise last year to 118GW of solar installations on roofs, meaning 36 million more homes were powered by solar at the end of last year.

That helped push overall solar additions in 2022 to a record 239GW – or 45% more than in the previous year – and cumulative global solar installations to 1.18 terawatt (TW) at the end of last year.

“The world has realised that fossil fuel crises are the crises that never really go away,” SolarPower Europe president Aristotelis Chantavas said.

“More than ever before, people in every part of the world are turning to solar. In a year defined by energy and climate crisis, solar hope continues to shine through.”

Graph of annual solar installations world-wide. Photo: SolarPower Europe

The installation boom is set to intensify further.

The industry group and its partner the Global Solar Council are forecasting additions this year of 341-402GW, which could swell to 1TW in new solar capacity added each year by the end of the decade.

For that to happen, limited grid capacity and a lack of flexibility or storage in national power systems need to be overcome, SolarPower Europe added, with 20 out of 26 significant solar countries (that add more than 1GW per year) reporting grid bottlenecks as a key barrier to solar development.

“Grids and flexibility are the sleeping giant of the energy transition – and the giant is waking up,” said Michael Schmela, director of market intelligence at SolarPower Europe.

“We’re installing huge amounts of solar, and we need to be able to use it, when we need it.

“Governments around the world must make upgrading their electricity and storage infrastructure a political priority.”

Southeast Asian solar boom just beginning!

This year’s report has a special focus on Southeast Asia, where 3.4GW of solar were installed last year, less than the 4.2GW in 2021, or a record 13.1GW in 2020. Nevertheless, the region’s irradiance, increasing power demand, and supportive government policies are improving prospects and could mean that more than 20GW per year will be installed by 2027, the report estimated.

“Solar’s technical and cost profile makes it an ideal solution for Southeast Asia to decarbonise its economies, while bringing clean, democratised energy to its growing populations,” said Tetchi Capellan, general secretary of the Asian Photovoltaic Industry Association.

“The Southeast Asian solar boom is just beginning.”

Top ten global solar markets last year. Photo: SolarPower Europe

China again outshone all other solar markets last year, adding almost 100GW (94.7GW) alone, or more than a third of the total capacity installed worldwide, followed by the US with 21.9GW in additions.

India came in a strong third, with 17.4GW in fresh solar installations in 2022, followed by Brazil (+10.9GW), Spain (8.4GW) and Germany (7.4GW). Europe as a whole added 46.1GW.

Looking at the overall solar penetration per capita, Australia was on top with 1,191 watts per capita installed, followed by the Netherlands with 1,029w/capita and Germany with 815w/capita.