Solar energy could be the largest source of electricity by 2050, according to two research papers from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA puts energy from the sun ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro, and nuclear sources. The reports said that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2050, and solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide an additional 11 per cent.
“Combined, these solar technologies could prevent the emission of more than six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 – that is more than all current energy-related CO2 emissions from the United States or almost all of the direct emissions from the transport sector worldwide today,” the IEA said.
IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven added: “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.
“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.”