Solar has become the world’s favourite new type of electricity generation, according to global data showing that more solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is being installed than any other generation technology.
Worldwide, some 73 gigawatts of net new solar PV capacity was installed in 2016. Wind energy came in second place (55GW), with coal relegated to third (52GW), followed by gas (37GW) and hydro (28GW).
Together, PV and wind represent 5.5% of current energy generation (as at the end of 2016), but crucially they constituted almost half of all net new generation capacity installed worldwide during last year.
It is probable that construction of new coal power stations will decline, possibly quite rapidly, because PV and wind are now cost-competitive almost everywhere.
Hydro is still important in developing countries that still have rivers to dam. Meanwhile, other low-emission technologies such as nuclear, bio-energy, solar thermal and geothermal have small market shares.
PV and wind now have such large advantages in terms of cost, production scale and supply chains that it is difficult to see any other low-emissions technology challenging them within the next decade or so.