WEO Week: Hopes for COP26 and beyond


Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into usable energy forms. Solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal electricity and solar heating and cooling are well established solar technologies.

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Key findings

Solar PV net capacity additions by application segment, 2017-2022


Solar PV will dominate renewable energy capacity additions

Solar PV will see stable growth in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic as strong gains in the utility-scale sector offset a small contraction in the distributed market, as economic challenges slow distributed deployment. Major markets, such as the United States, China and the European Union, will help solar PV will add an average of over 125 GW of capacity per year from 2021-2025. Even higher growth can be achieved with a smooth policy transition in China, a quicker recovery of the distributed solar PV and policy clarity in emerging markets such as the ASEAN region and the Middle East and Africa.

Solar PV power generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Solar PV is on track with the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario

Solar PV generation increased 22% (+131 TWh) in 2019 and represented the second-largest absolute generation growth of all renewable technologies, slightly behind wind and ahead of hydropower. Despite decelerating growth due to recent policy changes and uncertainties in China (the largest PV market globally), 2019 was a year of record global growth in PV capacity. As competitiveness continues to improve, solar PV is still on track to reach the levels envisioned in the SDS, which will require average annual growth of 15% between 2019 and 2030.

Concentrating solar power generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Emphasising plant storage value will be key to attracting investment for concentrating solar power

CSP generation increased by an estimated 34% in 2019. Although this growth is exceptionally high, CSP is still not on track with the SDS, which requires annual average growth of almost 24% through 2030. Policy designs that emphasise the value of CSP plant storage will be key to attract additional investment.


Our work

The SolarPACES TCP supports collaboration to advance development and deployment of concentrating solar thermal technologies. From a system perspective, concentrating solar power (CSP) offers significant advantages. With built-in thermal storage, CSP can improve the flexibility and stability of power systems, provide dispatchable electricity and help integrating more variable renewables.

Through multi-disciplinary international collaborative research and knowledge exchange, as well as market and policy recommendations, the SHC TCP works to increase the deployment rate of solar heating and cooling systems by breaking down the technical and non-technical barriers to increase deployment.

Established in 1993, the PVPS TCP supports international collaborative efforts to enhance the role of photovoltaic solar energy (PV) as a cornerstone in the transition to sustainable energy systems. The PVPS TCP seeks to serve as a global reference for policy and industry decision makers; to act as an impartial and reliable source of information on trends, markets and costs; and to provide meaningful guidelines and recommended practices for state-of-the-art PV applications.