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11 May 2010

IEA: Solar power to generate quarter of global electricity by 2050

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Reports predict solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power could compete with power from the grid by the 2020s

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has given one of the clearest signals to date that it expects renewable to dominate the global energy complex over the coming decades, with the release of new figures that predict solar energy could account for between 20 and 25 per cent of electricity production worldwide by 2050.

The agency today released two new road maps for the solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) sectors at the Mediterranean Solar Plan Conference in Valencia, predicting that both technologies will enjoy stellar growth over the next four decades.

Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the IEA, said that combined, the solar technologies had the potential to enhance global energy security while reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by almost six billion tonnes a year by 2050.

The two reports said that solar PV and CSP technologies had the potential to complement one another, with PV dominating the distributed energy market and CSP providing utility-scale solar power through large solar plants.

The IEA predicted that together they could generate 9,000 terawatt hours of energy in 2050, representing up to a quarter of anticipated electricity output.

However, Tanaka warned that solar's emergence as a mainstream energy source was dependent on the continued development of government-backed incentives and favourable regulatory environments. "This decade is crucial for effective policies to enable the development of solar electricity," he said. "Long-term oriented, predictable solar-specific incentives are needed to sustain early deployment and bring both technologies to competitiveness in the most suitable locations and times."


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