Solar generates fifth of global electricity on summer solstice midday peak

  • In 2023, more than 2 million solar panels were installed on average every day
  • No source of electricity has grown faster than solar, from 100 TWh to 1000 TWh of generation in eight years
  • Thirty-four economies generated more than 10% of their electricity from solar in 2023
  • On this years summer solstice, it’s estimated that 20% of the world’s electricity will come from solar
The summer solstice on June 21st

Roughly 89% of all solar panels are installed in the northern hemisphere

Solar power generation has reached new world records, according to a new report by independent energy think tank, Ember

The report shows a significant growth and untapped potential in solar energy compared to other sources, especially in sunnier countries. It also covers solar generation in the world’s four biggest solar markets: China, the USA, India, and Japan.

Solar is the fastest-growth of electricity generation, the report claimed, growing from 100TWh to 1,000TWh over eight years. This growth is four years ahead of wind, with gas, coal and hydro trailing behind at 28, 32 and 39 years respectively, and has been this way since 2004. 

Solar energy will also increase over the summer solstice, which occurred 20 June, with the report claiming that “across the midday peaks, 20% of the world’s electricity will come from solar, which is up from 16% last year”. 

In 2023, an average of over 2 million solar panels were installed per day, up from 1 million in 2022. As a result, solar met 49% of global electricity demand growth and added double the amount of new electricity than provided by coal. China accounted for 36% of global solar generation and is currently the world’s largest solar market. 

Kostantsa Rangelova, electricity analyst at Ember, said: “Battery costs have collapsed, meaning solar power is already being used in the evening, not just in the daytime. 

“Solar power is the fastest-growing source of electricity and will undoubtedly rise to become the biggest source of electricity, and ultimately of energy.”

Roughly 89% of all solar panels are installed in the northern hemisphere, according to the report, resulting in a seasonally higher share of global solar generation during the summer months, June especially. 

As stated in the report, “Ember expects the share of solar in total electricity generation to reach 8.2% in June 2024, up from 6.7% in June 2023. Across the whole of 2023, solar generated a record 5.5% of global electricity”.  

Rangelova added: “At 20% share, solar is now a serious global electricity source.”

Global market shares of solar are 20%, but is expected to grow to 30% by the end of June. In the EU, solar share for June is expected to be double the global average, up from 17% in June 2023. 

Further predictions state the US and India will have a similar solar share this month at 6.9% and 7.1% respectively, compared to the global average of 8.2%. 

Thirty-four economies currently generate more than 10% of their electricity from solar, and increase from 26 in 2022 and 0 in 2015. Of those economies, 9 have electricity markets with more than 5TWh of solar generation. 

This includes Chile at 20%, Greece at 19% and Hungary at 18%, with Chile becoming the first country to reach 20%  solar share, the target in the IEA’s Net Zero Energy scenario.

Despite this success, many sunny countries have yet to take advantage of solar power. Countries such as Australia and Spain are close behind Chile at achieving 20%, but otherwise, 66% of countries generate less than 5% of their electricity from solar. 

The report concludes that regardless of poor insolation, there is still high potential for solar. This is demonstrated by Germany which generates 12% solar power. 

As duly noted in the report, “considering the falling costs and increase in technological efficiency, solar is set to see increased adoption in these countries in the future.

“Many high potential countries across the globe face financial and logistical challenges and it is important to enable solar development in these countries to lead the world towards a clean, electrified energy future”.

Written by:
Louise joined The Eco Experts as Editorial Assistant in April 2024. She is a talented artist who has a keen interest in solutions that lead to a more environmentally-friendly future.
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