Solar Energy Can Provide Quarter of World Energy by 2040

Solar energy can provide more than one quarter of the world’s energy by 2040, according to an analysis released by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace.

BERLIN, Germany, DE, 2001-10-22 [] In the process, the renewable energy technology would provide energy for one billion people and create two million jobs by 2020, says the report, ‘Solar Generation.’ “It’s a realistic, achievable goal, based on the current state of the industry and opportunities in the market, but it requires clear political support from governments around the world,” says Sven Teske of Greenpeace. “We need to massively boost renewable energy sources if we are to phase out the fossil fuels that threaten our climate. ” By 2020, solar output around the globe could be 276 terawatt hours, which would equal one third of Africa’s energy needs or 10 percent of demand in OECD countries in Europe, or 1 percent of global demand. It could replace 75 coal power stations and prevent the emission of 664 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. The infrastructure would have an investment value of US$75 billion a year and it would lower the cost of solar modules to $1 per Wp. By 2040, solar output could be 9,000 TWh, or 26 percent of the global demand and more than the combined demand of OECD Europe and North America in 1998. “As part of the global Choose Positive Energy campaign, Greenpeace is calling on world governments to provide renewable energy to two billion of the world’s poorest people in the next decade,” says Teske. “Even using conservative estimates, this report shows solar energy is able to fulfil a large part of this demand, and create millions of jobs globally.” Last year, the cumulative installed capacity of all solar PV systems around the world passed the 1,200 MW mark, while global shipments of PV cells and modules continue to grow at an average annual rate of 33 percent. The solar electricity industry now is worth $1 billion in annual sales, and competition among major manufacturers has become increasingly intense, as new players enter the market to meet the growing demand for PV. “This clear commercial and political commitment to the expansion of the PV industry means that the current surge of activity in the solar electricity sector is just the start of the massive transformation and expansion expected to occur over the coming decades,” says the report. “Much work still needs to be done to turn potential into reality,” including a critical need to involve the investment finance, marketing and retail sectors, and to explain that solar electricity will bring socio-economic and environmental benefits. “We must have a clear signal from national governments that there is a political commitment to expanding the role of solar electricity in the energy mix,” says Teske. “In particular, the European Commission must ensure that innovative national incentive schemes for solar electricity are not invalidated on competition grounds.”
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