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.
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.