Electricity from solar to eclipse coal

3rd November 2014


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  • Energy ,
  • Renewable

Author

Urs Baumgartner

The sun could be the world's largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It reports that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by the middle of the century, while solar thermal electricity from concentrating solar power plants could provide an additional 11%. The installation of solar technology on this scale would reduce carbon emissions annually by 6 million tonnes by 2050, said the agency.

The IEA warns, however, that the solar industry will generate greater levels of electricity only if it receives consistent messages from policymakers. “Where there is a record of policy incoherence, confusing signals or stop-and-go policy cycles, some projects that are needed simply will not go ahead,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.

The UK government has consistently changed its policy on solar. In its solar strategy, which was published in October 2013, Decc forecast that installed solar capacity would reach 10GW by 2020.

The solar industry has warned that plans by the energy department to remove large-scale solar PV (above 5MW) from the Renewables Obligation in April 2015, two years earlier than when the RO will cease to operate, will render such deployment levels unlikely.

The Solar Trade Association (STA) forecast that removing large-scale solar from the RO would cap solar deployment at 4GW by 2020. It said there was already evidence that projects were being cancelled.


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