Solar To Be Primary Energy Source By 2050? IEA Says Yes

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Solar will be the industrial world’s primary energy source by the year 2050, according to a recent report from the International Energy Agency — presented at EU PVSEC’s closing event.


By the middle of the century, the report argues, solar energy technologies — whether photovoltaics, CSP, solar thermal, or others — will make up more than 50% of the total electricity produced in the world. A big portion of that will — again, according to the report — be from photovoltaics, which will make up more than 16% of the world’s electricity production.

The prediction is part of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) most recent Energy Technology Perspectives report. Much of the IEA’s recent change of opinion on the potential of solar technology is reportedly down to the recent, relatively fast cost-reductions in the commercial forms of the technology.

Though, one can’t help but wonder if the current state of the fossil fuel industry plays into the change of heart as well. There’s no denying that oil and natural gas extraction is becoming more and more costly for most of the major players in the industry as the most easily recoverable deposits are becoming depleted, leaving a growing portion of the fossil fuel pie coming from relatively costly forms — such as deep-sea oil and tar sands.

The IEA’s Renewable Energy Division Head, Paolo Frankl, recently explained the new prediction, commenting: “This figure represents a big increase on previous roadmaps because things have changed so quickly. Based on its competitive advantage in distributed applications, PV is unbeatable by any generation technology, distributed or not.”

As an interesting final note, the report unsurprisingly predicts that China will remain the world’s largest solar PV market through 2050 — making up an estimated/predicted 37% of total installed global PV capacity.

Image Credit: EU PVSEC

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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