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Published on August 29th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Power Could Produce >50% of Global Electricity, IEA Report Concludes

August 29th, 2011 by  

solar power farm

This is no surprise to solar power fans and followers, that solar power could supply the world with most of its electricity needs by 2060. But the fact that the International Energy Agency (IEA) is broadcasting that, after increasing its previous projections, is pretty uplifting.

More from Bloomberg:

“Photovoltaic and solar-thermal plants may meet most of the world’s demand for electricity by 2060 — and half of all energy needs — with wind, hydropower and biomass plants supplying much of the remaining generation, Cedric Philibert, senior analyst in the renewable energy division at the Paris-based agency, said in an Aug. 26 phone interview.”

Despite the expectation that electricity demand will be much higher in 2060 than now, solar power is projected to grow so much that it will provide the world with the majority of its electricity needs in a few decades.

The IEA previously projected that solar would provide the world with 21% of its electricity needs by 2050, but its new report (due out later this year) shows a change of heart (or logic).

“Under the forecasted scenario, which Philibert will set out in more detail at a conference in Kassel, Germany, on Sept. 1, most heating and transport will switch from dirtier fossil fuels to cleaner electric power. Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector would fall to about 3 gigatons per year compared with about 30 gigatons this year.”

"Comparing finite and renewable planetary energy reserves (Terawatt‐years). Total recoverable reserves are shown for the finite resources. Yearly potential is shown for the renewables." (source: Perez & Perez, 2009a)

Indicators that Solar Power is about to Boom

Many renewable energy haters (meaning fossil fuel companies, the politicians they purchase, and the citizens they confuse) love to focus on the fact that solar power provides us with a small percentage of our electricity today.

However, that small percentage is growing larger fast and solar is crossing a number of key checkpoints rapidly. As I’ve written in more detail previously:

  1. Solar power is a great investment for citizens around the country and the world TODAY, offering breathtakingly low electricity bills (and the possibility to even make money from the electric company in some places) and more than satisfactory returns on investment (solar power systems beat the heck out of the stock market for most people).
  2. Not even taking externalities into account (and solar power’s true value), solar power is projected to be cheaper than fossil fuels in just a few years.
  3. Solar energy resources crush those of any other power options (see image above).
  4. Solar costs are falling like crazy and, largely as a result of this, the solar power industry is growing like crazy (in the U.S. and globally).
  5. The need to get off fossil fuels and get on clean energy is becoming clear to more and more people every day. That need is driving energy policies around the globe that are speeding up the deployment of clean solar energy.

Check out my solar power intro post for more on these topics.

Truthfully, I hope and think the IEA’s estimates are still short of what could (and might) happen.

Photo via Duke Energy 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.

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