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Arguments for a firm commitment to photovoltaics

17 October 2017



Most of the total (cumulative) installed power in the world of photovoltaic energy has been realized in the last decade. Asia in the last five years and Europe in the last decade have led these increases, multiplying initial capacity (4.5 GW in 2005) by 70.

Evolution of cumulative installed capacity

Fuente: Boosting Solar Pv Markets: The role Of Quality Infrastructure. IRENA

If we consider it by country:

Solar PV generation capacity
Gigawatts, cumulative installed capacity

Source: includes data from EurObserver, IEA PV Power Systems PRogramme and © IRENA 2017, Solar Power Europe.

If we consider by type of connection (grid-connected or off-grid):

Solar PV Global Additions, Shares of Grid-Connected and Off-Grid Installations, 2006-2016

Fuente: Renewables 2017 Global Status Report. REN21


If we take the whole of renewable energies, all of them in a clear upward trend in terms of increases in their consumption, solar is the one that has grown the most in the last fifteen years.

Let's read the latest data for 2016: "Renewable energy (excluding hydroelectric) grew 14.1% in 2016, below the 10-year average, but the highest increase in record (53 mtep). The wind provided more than half of the growth of renewable energies, while solar contributed almost a third despite representing only 18% of the total. Asia Pacific surpassed Europe and Eurasia as the largest producing region of renewable energy. China overtook the United States as the largest producer of renewable energy, "according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017.

Growth and diffusion of renewables
Growth by country

Fuente: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017

Diffusion of power technologies

Share of countries*,%

*The proportion of the 67 countries thar are individually listed in the Statistical Review with power generation of at least 50 GWh from the specofied technology.

Fuente: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017


When considering global consumption, the sources that most contribute to the generation mix are oil, coal and natural gas. We have to take into account that these consumptions will remain, despite their harmful effects, in the coming years, given the colossal increase in energy demand that will occur globally (economic development emerging countries, demographic development).

World primary energy consumption increased by only 1% in 2016, after growth of 0.9% in 2015 and 1% in 2014. This compares with the 10-year average of 1.8% per year, according to data of BP.

Shares of global primary energy consumption

Oil remains the world's leading fuel, accounting for one-third of world energy consumption, despite the decline shown in the chart.

Coal's share in overall primary energy consumption declined to 28.1%, the lowest since 2004. World coal production fell 6.2%, or 231 million tonnes, the largest decline. World coal consumption fell (by 2016) by 53 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtep), or 1.7%, the second consecutive annual decline.

Comparatively and according to the graph, the renewables, which occupy the bottom place with 3.2% of the total, begin their takeoff with the arrival of the century.

World consumption
Million tonnes oil equivalent

World primary energy consumption grew by 1.0% in 2016, well below the 10-year average of 1.8% and the third consecutive year at or below 1%. As was the case in 2015, growth was below average in all regions except Europe & Eurasia. All fuels except oil and nuclear power grew at below-average rates. Oil provided the largest increment to energy consumption at 77 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), followed by natural gas (57 mtoe) and renewable power (53 mtoe)
Fuente: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2017

At the national level, the contribution of Renewables to Electricity Generation:

Consumo primario de energías renovables 2016 (España)
Generación Eléctrica
  Potencia (MW) Producción (GWh) Producción Energía Primaria (ktep)
Hidráulica(1) 20.056 36.385 3.130
Biomasa 678 4.038 1.174
R.S.U. 234 734 243
Eólica 22.978 48.914 4.205
Solar fotovoltaica 4.897 8.064 693
Biogás 226 893 193
Solar termoeléctrica 2.300 5.579 2.190
TOTAL ÁREAS ELÉCTRICAS 51.370 104.607 11.827

1) No incluye la producción de bombeo


Percentage of solar energy consumption (on a global level) has grown more than any other type of energy.

Unidad de medida: toneladas equivalentes de petróleo

Cifra en porcentaje / Crecimiento comparado respecto del año 2017

If we consider the national levels (in a comparative graph between the first semester 2008 and the first half of 2017), we have that the Solar Photovoltaic Energy experiences the greatest increase of all forms of energy examined, with a differential of 492.7%, in the last ten years.

Variable Sem | 2008 Sem | 2017 Diferencia (%)
Producción hidroeléctrica 11,44 13,16 15,7%
Producción nuclear 29,11 28,46 -1,7%
Producción con carbón 20,56 19,99 -2,3%
Producción con ciclo combinado 44,46 12,13 -72,6%
Producción eólica 15,94 25,19 58,9%
Producción solar fotovoltaica 0,68 4,01 492,7%
Producción solar térmica 0,01 2,51  

Producción de electricidad de España peninsular por tecnologías. Valores totales en TWh.
Fuente de datos: REE

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