The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said in a new report that the falling cost of photovoltaic (PV) technology is likely to make solar power the greatest source of electricity by mid-century, with China and the US taking the lead.
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IEA said solar could be the world’s largest source of electric power, beating fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear energy – generating up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050.
Solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could add a further 11%, the organisation said. In this scenario, more than 6 billion tonnes of carbon could be prevented from entering the atmosphere each year.
China and the US would likely lead the way in solar development, as already suggested by recent China’s commitment to invest in solar power. Africa, India and the Middle East could also see significant growth.
IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said, “The rapid cost decrease of PV modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades.
“However, both technologies are very capital intensive: almost all expenditures are made upfront. Lowering the cost of capital is thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps.”
IEA says that in order to fully take advantage of the technology, policy-makers must put clear signs in place.
Van der Hoeven added, “Where there is a record of policy incoherence, confusing signals or stop-and-go policy cycles, investors end up paying more for their investment, consumers pays more for their energy, and some projects that are needed simply will not go ahead.”
Photo: R Walker & MountainAsh via Flickr