Sleeping Giant Awakes To A Bright Renewable Day Of Solar Potential

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It wasn’t that long ago that China was referred to as the sleeping giant. That giant has been awake for a while now and has become the manufacturing center of the world. China has also become a major global leader in solar installations and other forms of renewable energy. Now it is the turn of the US to awake to its solar potential.

solar potential
China, US, and India solar installs.

According to Rethink Energy, data global solar installations have increased by 12.2% year on year, from 146.5 GW in 2020 to 164.3 GW in 2021, a little lower than their 169 GW prediction. They predict that over 204 GW will be installed during 2022. It is worth examining this data in the light of RE’s long term future energy projections.

Regional year-on-year growth rates were:

24.4% in the USA
13.9% in China
20.1% in Europe
39.4% in Latin America
318% in India.

Demand for photovoltaics skyrocketed in 2021 and without supply chain issues over 200 GW might have been built.

solar potential
Solar installations of 17 countries.


The yellow line in the graph above shows what percentage of national capacity was installed in 2021, identifying highly active newcomer markets Poland, (47%), Chile (45%), and Brazil (33%).

China installed 54.88 GW throughout 2021 with 25.6 GW being utility-scale and 29.3 GW installed on rooftops. With many massive desert complexes still under development China is expected to reassert its dominance for utility solar over the next few years. Rethink Energy expects Chinese solar installations to reach 75 GW in 2022, rising to 208 GW by 2030 with a total capacity of 1.5 TW, by that time.

US installations grew by 24.4% to 24.3 GW, with the already large utility-scale segment growing year-on-year by 27.8% and the rooftop sector losing ground up 16.3%. Come on Tesla — where are the solar rooftops!

India installed 11.9 GW of solar, boosted by leftover projects from the 2020 lockdown period and by a rush to install them ahead of a new tariff on solar imports. Indian utility-scale solar is among the cheapest in the world, which means modules can cost as much as 40% to 50% of a project’s total investment cost, making this market highly sensitive to the supply chain disruption of 2021 to 2023. The Indian government has waived its import tariffs to compensate, but only temporarily.


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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 730 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth