Key indicators of solar prominence

Solar photovoltaic (PV) market showed new capacity installations totalling 175 gigawatts in 2021, up 36GW from the previous year. This was in fact the largest annual increase which brought the next global solar PV capacity to 942 GW. By the end of 2021, at least even countries have enough capacity to meet at least 10% of their electricity demand from solar PV. In total, PV contributed to around 5% of global electricity generation, compared to 3% in 2020. For the ninth consecutive year, Asia surpassed all other regions in new solar PV installations, representing 50% of the global added capacity in 2021. Globally, the utility-scale PV market and rooftop solar experienced growth in 2021, while medium-scale solar PV plants were highly impacted by the rising prices of PV modules - moreso than small-scale residential solar. Floating PV and agricultural PV systems are still in the niche stage of market penetration, but promising results have been recently recorded in several projects in Asia.

In the last few years, building-integrated PV systems and vehicle-integrated PV have been widely implemented, as innovations in the design of PV-integrated surfaces have encouraged architects and engineers to embrace clean power systems. With the exponential growth of the EV market, some manufacturers have progressed from the research and development phase towards prototyping, where some reports of over 25 km additional range can be achieved in vehicles with integrated PV. Installations of bifacial modules have continued to be widely considered, but recently some have argued that although bifacials have greater yield, it does not necessarily lead to lower levelized cost of electricity.

Continued growth will likely carry over to years ahead, powered by robust demand and record-breaking raft of clean energy incentives. While renewable energy costs may rise, wind and solar will likely remain the cheapest energy source in most areas, as fuel costs for conventional generation have been rising much faster than renewable costs. Residential solar demand will likely gain momentum as households react to retail electricity prices and weather-induced power outages. Lastly, private investments in renewables exceed the USD 10 billion recorded in the past year, as investors are attracted by transparent returns on mature technologies backed by government incentives and tax credits.

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