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Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into usable energy forms. Solar photovoltaics (PV), solar thermal electricity and solar heating and cooling are well established solar technologies.

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Key findings

Renewable capacity growth between 2019 and 2024 by technology


Solar PV drives strong rebound in renewable capacity additions

In the IEA's latest 5-year forecast, renewable power capacity is set to expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024, led by solar PV. This increase of 1 200 GW is equivalent to the total installed power capacity of the United States today. Solar PV alone accounts for almost 60% of the expected growth, with onshore wind representing one-quarter.

Solar PV power generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Solar PV is on track with the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario

Although capacity additions remained flat in 2018, solar PV generation increased 31% in 2018, and represented the largest absolute generation growth (+136 TWh) of all renewable technologies, slightly ahead of wind and hydropower. Despite recent policy changes and uncertainties in China, India and the United States, solar PV competitiveness improved. Solar PV is still on track to reach the levels envisioned in the SDS, which will require average annual growth of 16% between 2018 and 2030.

Concentrating solar power generation in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030


Emphasising plant storage value will be key to attracting investment for concentrating solar power

Concentrating solar power (CSP) generation increased by an estimated 8% in 2018. Nevertheless, CSP is not on track with the Sustainable Development Scenario, which requires annual average growth of almost 26% through 2030. Policy design that emphasises CSP plant storage value will be key to attract additional investment.