Solar resources are available in every country and both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies can be used to convert this solar resource into electricity. Solar PV can use both direct and diffuse sunlight to create power, while CSP relies on direct sunlight, somewhat restricting its deployment to areas with high direct normal irradiance (DNI). Cumulative solar PV deployment reached 578 GW at the end of 2019, while the deployment of CSP is still in its infancy at 6 GW.
The rapid deployment of solar PV, working in combination with high learning rates (for every doubling of cumulative installed capacity, the LCOE of PV systems declined by 36% between 2010 and 2019) has led to dramatic cost declines in the last 10 years. Crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV module prices have fallen by more than 90% since 2010.
Between 2010 and 2019, the dramatic fall in solar PV module prices, along with continuing reductions in Balance of System (BoS) costs and the increase in capacity factors saw the global weighted- average LCOE of newly commissioned utility-scale solar PV fall 82%, to USD 0.068/kWh in 2019. As a result, around 40% of the capacity deployed that year had costs (excluding any financial support) that were lower than the cheapest, new, fossil fuel-fired capacity option.
At a global level, cost reductions for modules and inverters accounted for 62% of the global weighted average total installed cost decline between 2010 and 2019. Balance of systems costs have also been an important contributor to the declining global weighted-average total installed costs, with 13% of the global reduction coming from lower installation costs, 7% from racking, 3% from other BoS hardware and 15% from a range of smaller categories.