Talking points

In three charts: the explosive investment in solar

The phenomenon of solar energy was first observed over a century ago, but serious investment in installations is only just beginning

22/05/2019

Rosie Carrow

Rosie Carrow

Content writer

Photovoltaic energy was first observed in 1839 by French physicist Edmond Becquerel. It took another century for solar cells to become a practical means of harnessing energy: in 1958 the US satellite Vanguard 1 became the first orbital satellite to use photovoltaic cells to power radio and other equipment.

Today, billions of dollars are being poured into solar energy generation and the development of associated technologies. India and China, with their large land masses, huge populations and growing need for energy, are among the biggest investors.

INVESTMENT IN SOLAR IS ROCKETING…

Investment_in_solar.jpgSOURCE: UNEP, BLOOMBERG NEW ENERGY FINANCE

The second chart, below, shows the astonishing efficiencies being achieved as the cost of solar energy production plummets.

…AND THE COST OF INSTALLATIONS IS FALLING FAST…

cost_of_solar_power_installations.pngSOURCE: BLOOMBERG, EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE

Global solar power capacity is expected to triple by 2022, with China accounting for 40% of the world’s new solar panels – but at the moment it accounts for a tiny proportion of energy consumption. As the third chart shows, solar power made up just 0.3% of the world’s power sources in 2017 – a long way behind other renewable energy sources such as hydro.


…BUT SOLAR REMAINS A FRACTION OF TOTAL ENERGY USE

Total_energy_use.png

SOURCE: VACLAV SMIL AND BP STATISTICAL REVIEW OF WORLD ENERGY

The Sungrow Huainan Solar Farm in China, pictured, top, is the world’s largest floating solar array.

Author

Rosie Carrow

Rosie Carrow

Content writer

This article is issued by Schroders Wealth Management, which is part of the Schroder Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. (Hong Kong) Limited, Level 33, Two Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong. Licensed and regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

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