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Solar to outstrip wind 'within five years'

PV set to overtake wind in new capacity by 2023 but turbines remain top generators, says Fitch Solutions

Solar power will within five years overtake wind as the main engine of global clean-energy growth, as non-hydro renewables double worldwide capacity by 2028 to nearly 2,400GW, according to Fitch Solutions.

Some 675GW of new solar plant is expected to be built around the world by 2023, outpacing the 482GW in additions forecast for the wind power sector. Solar will make up nearly 49% of total renewables plant by 2028, compared to wind power's 44%.

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“Given that solar power projects often can be developed in a matter of months, compared to years – as often is the case for thermal and hydropower projects – they have become increasingly attractive in a number of emerging markets as a way to quickly boost electrification levels,” the report’s authors said.

Fitch Solutions said it nonetheless expects wind power to play “the most important role in terms of power generation”, given the technology’s higher capacity factor compared to solar.

“Wind power projects can theoretically operate 24/7, contingent on wind conditions, and we highlight that a number of offshore wind projects access relatively reliable winds offshore.

“This, coupled with steady improvements to wind technology and reduced maintenance down-time due to smarter more pre-emptive wind farm monitoring, will ensure that the wind power sector remains the biggest generator of electricity over our ten-year forecast period.”

China will be the dominant market powering renewables growth over the next decade, according to the report, with expectations the country will build nearly 590GW of wind and solar in the next ten years, equal to about 50% of all new renewables capacity added around the world.

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The US and India are expected to see the second and third largest clean-energy growth-rates behind China, adding 140GW and 115GW of renewables capacity in the next decade, respectively, meaning the US will make up 12% of new installations to 2028, and India 10%.

Taken together with Germany, France, Japan, Turkey, UK, Taiwan and Brazil, the top-ten global renewables markets will comprise more than 86% of the worldwide build-out in the next decade, noted the report, which nonetheless highlighted that the renewables expansion will also be supported by a “broader base” of markets, with 44 countries having added over 1GW of clean-energy capacity by 2028, while a total of 79 will add more than 100MW.

Fitch Solutions’ report also pointed up the growing role of lower-profile renewables sources, including geothermal power and biomass, which have the “baseload characteristics” to have “relative importance to global renewables power generation [that] is much higher than the size of the two sectors might suggest”.

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