To say 2017 was a good year for solar panels is a bit of an understatement. According to a report from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, last year more solar capacity was installed around the world than net coal, gas, and nuclear plant capacity combined.
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Solar’s total came to 98 gigawatts (GW) of capacity versus 73 GW of net fossil fuel capacity added (that is, additional fossil fuel capacity adjusted for fossil fuel plant retirements). That’s great for solar, but it also shows we’re nowhere close to breaking our addiction to fossil fuels. The world added 67 GW of coal plant capacity in 2017, but 32 GW were retired, leaving a net 35 GW of coal capacity added. For gas-fired plants, gross additions totaled 54 GW, and 16 GW were retired, leaving a net addition of 38 GW.
The numbers come from Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s database. The company partnered with the Frankfurt School and the United Nations Environmental Programme to complete the 86-page analysis of 2017’s energy landscape.