Trends in PV applications 2021

For the 26th consecutive year, the IEA-PVPS Trends report is now available. This document provides the most comprehensive global overview of the development of the Photovoltaics sector, covering policies, drivers, technologies, statistics and industry analysis.

Highlights include:

  • The market grew again to 145 GW in 2020 and even more was installed in 2021 despite the pandemic.
  • China continues to drive the global PV market, but the US, the EU and Japan also play a key role. Only India experienced a major market downturn due to legal and regulatory constraints.
  • PV development is now widespread across all continents, though Africa and some parts of Latin America, Europe and Asia are yet to embrace the solar-driven energy transition.
  • Policies are increasingly complex, as are the barriers to PV adoption: the more mainstream PV becomes, the more we encounter new barriers stifling its development.
  • The PV fleet at the end of 2020 saves 860 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually, which is proportionally more than its share in the electricity mix. PV is a key tool to decarbonize the economy at large (not only the electricity sector), competitively enabling the shift from fossil fuels to electricity for transport and building applications.
  • As the PV sector rapidly expands, it contributes increasingly to the global economy, including the creation of millions of jobs.

In summary, PV is now a mainstream source of electricity, at the core of the energy transition. While more is still required to efficiently tackle the challenges of climate change, the accelerating and unstoppable global development of PV presents an immediate pathway to decarbonization. This is not just a future prospect but a current reality in 2021.

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