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10 August 2022

Solar installs rise by 5X by 2038 says new Rethink Energy report

Global Solar Forecast 2050 is the most progressive solar report ever produced, a 60 page forecast of all solar technologies and installations out to 2050.

It shows that solar is on a roll. No seriously. Today we argue over whether or not it will hit, or not hit 200 GW of global annual installations in 2022. Solar is growing so fast it is bound to have growing pains. By 2038 it will hit five times that annual installation number, because governments, utilities and renewables firms realize that not only is it already the cheapest way to generate electricity, and will get increasingly cheaper, but the emergence of battery energy storage makes solar a more predictable resource.

All this is detailed in a brand new report from Rethink Energy entitled Global Solar Forecast 2050, and sub-titled Country breakdowns of 22.9 TW of solar by 2050.

Disruption in energy markets caused by the slowing natural gas markets, means that consumers everywhere will be clamoring to put solar on their rooftops anywhere that makes commercial sense. Look for a massive expansion in this as government pressure to make policy changes sees consumers rewarded for rooftop self-supply, smoothed by battery energy storage. Rooftop solar at its peak will represent 59% of annual additions to capacity by 2050.

New Measurement Concept

This report introduces the concept of “rooftop capacity per capita” and forecasts that countries such as Poland, Italy, China, the US and Vietnam and even the Netherlands, will begin to chase the leader Australia in GW of rooftop solar installed per million inhabitants.

Solar will also be at the center of the “green hydrogen” sector which will build momentum through to 2030 and then absorb a staggering amount of cheap electricity into the electrolysis process, mostly from cheap solar megaprojects in Australia, North Africa, the Middle East, and throughout China and the Americas, including irradiation hotspots like Chile.

The scale of the growth in annual additions will be staggering, progressing a huge 14.35% each year CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) through to 2030, before falling back to the more prosaic 9.7% CAGR through to 2040.

But the associated “growing pains” will be considerable with problems finding and funding sufficient polysilicon, and even more problems wresting dominance of the industry away from China. New forms of solar will also emerge, as PERC gives way to TOPCON, gives way to heterojunction and tandem designs and finally perovskite comes of age. This report is the FIRST to forecast each technology in detail.

All of that will happen in the next 30 years, but also new superpowers in solar irradiation will erupt onto the scene, and places like Chile and Australia will built giant energy export businesses based on the power of both solar and wind.

Global annual solar additions will hit 617 GW in 2030, and peak at 1022 GW in 2040, before sliding back to a mostly replacement business in the run up to 2050.

Repowering plans

The report also introduces a formula for calculating when solar Repowering will happen, so gives real insight into the relationship between module manufacture and annual additions.

Today as we write this report we understand that solar is actually rising in price day to day, but only due to the cramped supply of polysilicon, and this crisis will remain part of the pricing equation for some time to come, at least 4 or 5 years, until polysilicon settles to being simply part of the supply chain once again.

This report describes this process in detail, one country at a time, taking in the top 33 regions for solar output, whether that is now or at any stage during the next 30 years.

Most forecasters change their forecasts each quarter, but at Rethink Energy we believe that the future of solar over the 30 years period is unlikely to change decade to decade, although we accept that pricing crises will dictate what it does year to year.

Rethink Energy’s Global Solar Forecast 2050 is available with a subscription to the Rethink Energy Forecast service, made up of archive access, plus ten new forecasts each year and 20 shorter Research papers, which chased down every aspect of renewable energy. The services comes with a free subscription to our Weekly Analysis, our Video Interview Series, and Podcasts and costs just $4,600 per year for a corporate license.

To download a free executive summary click here or contact Simon Thompson at [email protected]