This model aims to calculate global wind and solar capacity additions. How many GW of new capacity would be needed for renewables to reach c25% of the global energy mix by 2050, up from 4% in 2021? In total energy terms, this means a 10x scale up, to 30,000 TWH of useful wind+solar energy in 2050. Gross global wind and solar capacity additions will surpass +1,000 GW by 2040.
Total net solar capacity growth is seen accelerating, and ultimately peaking at 500 GWe in 2040. This is a net number, as 650 GWe of new solar installations must counter-act 150GWe of retirements of past installations. In turn, adding 650 GWe of new solar installations, on an AC-basis, likely requires around 780 GWe of new solar panels on a gross, DC-basis. These forecasts are informed by our solar research.
Total new wind capacity growth is seen accelerating, and ultimately peaking at 250GWe in 2040. Again, this is a net number, as 330GWe of new wind installations must counter-act 80GWe of retirements of past installations. These forecasts are informed by our wind research.
The data-file also contains breakdowns across four regions (US, Europe, China and ‘rest of world’), a tracker of past growth forecast revisions (which have been revised up by 10x for solar and 3x for wind over the past decade), projections of future load factors, and data on the lifetime of solar assets from technical papers.
We would also like to highlight that our projections are simply informed guesses. Everyone is guessing at global wind and solar capacity additions. But we hope it is at least useful to have an auditable data-file of our own guesses.