Incredible growth expected in solar and wind power by 2033.

By Oliver Townsend Jul 9, 2024
Record growth in solar and wind power capacity: +5.4 TWac by 2033.jpegOrginal image from:

The renewable energy sector is poised for unprecedented growth in the coming decade, with solar and wind power capacity expected to surge by 5.4 terawatts (TWac) by 2033. This surge, as projected by Wood Mackenzie, will significantly impact the global energy landscape and drive the transition towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. In addition to solar and wind power capacity, energy storage is also set to grow substantially by 640%, reaching nearly 1 terawatt by 2033.

Solar and Wind Power Capacity Expansion

Between 2024 and 2033, the annual capacity of new solar and wind power plants is projected to increase from an average of 500 GW in 2023 to 560 GW. China is expected to play a central role in this expansion, with a forecast of adding 3.5 TWac of new capacity. Ambitious national policies, technological innovations, and energy security concerns are identified as key drivers for this growth, despite challenges such as inflation and grid constraints.

Energy Storage Growth

Excluding hydro-pumping, energy storage is set for remarkable growth, with a 636% increase to nearly 1 TW by 2033. Political support in the form of tax exemptions and hybrid auctions is accelerating the implementation of storage projects globally. In 2023 alone, the global energy storage market saw a record growth of 162% compared to 2022, indicating the momentum behind energy storage solutions.

Focus on Photovoltaic Solar Energy

Global solar photovoltaic capacity is expected to nearly quadruple by 2033, with Wood Mackenzie projecting 4.7 TWdc of new installations. China is anticipated to account for 50% of this growth, driven by low solar module prices and increased deployment in regions like Europe and China. Technological advancements and infrastructure expansions will be crucial in maximizing the potential of solar energy growth.

Outlook for Wind Energy

The global wind industry is set to add over 1.7 TW of new capacity in the next decade, with China leading the way. The Chinese government’s energy transition plans are stimulating long-term investments in the sector. Challenges such as permitting, grid access, and supply chain disruptions could impact installed capacity, potentially delaying some projects to later years.

Regional Dynamics and Market Trends

Excluding China, global wind power additions are projected to average 85 GW per year, a significant increase from the previous decade’s average of 37 GW. The Americas are expected to add 230 GW of wind power capacity by 2033, supported by the growing offshore wind sector and government incentives. Offshore wind power is set to connect an average of 39 GW per year between 2024 and 2033.

The substantial expansion in solar and wind power capacity, coupled with the rapid growth in energy storage, reflects a significant transformation in the global energy sector. Overcoming challenges related to grid infrastructure and permitting will be critical in fully unlocking the potential of renewable energies in the years ahead.

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