Solar energy could be the largest source of electricity by mid-century

Increased use of solar technologies could prevent the emission of more than six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050

By Vani Manocha
Published: Tuesday 30 September 2014


Efficient use of two technologies, combined with clear and consistent signals from policy makers across the world, could lead to sun becoming the largest source of electricity for the world.

Two reports, issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA), show how solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2050 while solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11 per cent.

The reports have also emphasised that these solar technologies could prevent the emission of more than six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050. 

“The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic 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,” says IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “However, both the 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,” she adds. 

The need for clear and consistent policies has been stressed upon in both the papers. By contrast,” Hoeven says, “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.”

According to a report of NPD Solarbuzz, a market research and consulting services company that tracks all solar power-related activity in the region, Solar PV projects totalling 12 giga-watts (GW) are in different stages of planning in West Asia and Africa.

In India, The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently released a draft scheme for development of solar parks and ultra mega solar power projects targeting an addition of 20,000 MW of solar power installed capacity in a time of five years (by 2020)


Technology roadmap: solar photovoltaic energy

Technology roadmap: solar thermal electricity

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