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 2022? In total energy terms, this means an 8x further 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 in the 2040s.
Total net solar capacity growth is seen accelerating, and ultimately peaking at 560 GWe in 2040. This is a net number, as 730 GWe of new solar installations must counter-act 170GWe of retirements of past installations. In turn, adding 730 GWe of new solar installations, on an AC-basis, likely requires around 850 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 more slowly, and ultimately peaking at 150GWe in 2050. Again, this is a net number, as 275GWe of new wind installations must counter-act 125GWe 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.
A trend in the 2023 revisions to our numbers has been upgrades for ever-improving solar technologies (e.g. HJTs) and reluctant but steep downgrades for offshore wind.
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.