Solar power to replace coal as world's top electricity source by 2050 — IEA

Solar power to replace coal as world's top electricity source by 2050 — IEA

Solar energy could be the top source of electricity by 2050, aided by dropping costs of the equipment needed to generate it, said Monday the U.S. International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to West’s energy watchdog two latest reports, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16% of the world’s electricity by 2050, while solar thermal electricity (STE) – from “concentrating” solar power plants – could provide a further 11%.

The agency adds that more solar power generating capacity has been added since 2010 than in the previous four decades.

Coal currently generates about 36% of global electric power, according to an IEA report released previously. But the figure varies widely by region, reaching as high as 80% in China and South Africa, and about 25% in Japan.

Solar power to replace coal as world's top electricity source by 2050 — IEA

Source: IEA, Sep. 2014.

The agency predicts that up to 4,600 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity could be installed by 2050, up from about 150 gigawatts at present, requiring an average annual investment of  $225 billion per year.

Last week at a UN climate summit in New York over 120 heads of state gave their backing to efforts to ramp up financing for renewables and formulate a new emissions reduction treaty, set to be signed off next year.