Solar Could Comprise ~25% of Global Electricity Output by 2050

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"PV will become competitive at utility-scale in the sunniest regions by 2030"

This finding emerges from two new analyses by the IEA: the solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) roadmaps launched today.

The roadmaps detail the technology milestones that would make this possible, highlighting that the two technologies will deploy in different yet complementary ways: PV mostly for on-grid distributed generation in many regions and CSP largely providing dispatchable electricity at utility scale from regions with brightest sun and clearest skies. PV also helps provide energy access off grid in rural areas.

Together, PV and CSP could generate 9 000 Terawatt hours of power in 2050.
The combination of solar photovoltaics and concentrating solar power offers considerable prospects for enhancing energy security while reducing energy-related CO2 emissions by almost six billion tons per year by 2050. – IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka
With effective policies in place, PV on residential and commercial buildings will achieve grid parity (i.e., with electricity grid retail prices—by 2020 in many regions). PV will become competitive at utility-scale in the sunniest regions by 2030 and provide 5% of global electricity. The PV industry, grid operators and utilities will need to develop new technologies and strategies to integrate large amounts of PV into flexible, efficient and smart grids. By 2050, PV could provide more than 11% of global electricity.

The IEA expects CSP to become competitive for peak and mid-peak loads by 2020 in the sunniest places if appropriate policies are adopted. Thanks to thermal storage, CSP can produce electricity around the clock and will become competitive with base load power by 2025 to 2030. North America will be the largest producer of CSP electricity, followed by North Africa and India. The overall contribution of CSP could—like that of PV—represent 11% or more of the global electricity demand by 2050.

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