IEA: Solar to account for 27% of global energy generation by 2050

Solar power looks set to become the world’s dominant energy source, with new data from the International Energy Agency predicting a combination of PV and concentrating solar thermal and storage will account for more than 27 per cent of all electricity generated by 2050.

The IEA’s solar dominant “high renewables” scenario – in which 68 per cent of generation is sourced from renewables – is predicated on the increasingly likely assumption that carbon capture and storage and nuclear will not be able to contribute to 2050 climate targets.

The IEA suggests solar PV could account for 16 per cent of global generation by 2050 – an amount that would require an average of more than 116GW of solar PV a year to be deployed over that time.

Private forecasters, however, have suggested that the solar industry will reach 100GW installation a year by 2017 or 2018 and capacity is likely to grow further beyond that.

The IEA’s “vanilla” scenario for reaching its climate goals require an average of just 67GW of solar PV to be installed a year – a figure the solar market looks likely to reach in 2015.

As for solar thermal with storage, the IEA says the kind of technology already deployed in Spain will also play a critical role, accounting for 11 per cent of global electricity supply in 2050 because of its ability to switch generation on, and off, when needed.
According to the IEA, in a high solar scenario Solar PV becomes the dominant energy source during the day, while CSP with storage is used to supplement production during the day and into the evening.

Other dispatchable energy, the IEA says, could include fast-response gas-fired generation, but is also likely to include most storage. Baseload power, meanwhile, plays just a limited role in overall generation.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson

Giles Parkinson regularly contributes unique content to Solar Choice News. Giles is the founder and editor of clean energy industry news service RenewEconomy. He is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the founding editor of Climate Spectator.
Giles Parkinson