International Energy Agency publishes solar energy book

Solar Energy Perspectives, released by the International Energy Agency, provides information, data, and analyses on solar energy technologies, market trends, and integration issues. It also considers the relationship of policy makers to solar energy deployment. The book points to a full realization of solar energy’s possibilities by the second part of this century.

December 7, 2011 — Solar Energy Perspectives, released by the International Energy Agency, provides information, data, and analyses on solar energy technologies, market trends, and integration issues. It also considers the relationship of policy makers to solar energy deployment. The book points to a full realization of solar energy’s possibilities by the second part of this century.

The publication builds upon Energy Technology Perspectives, a biennial IEA publication which outlines possible pathways to a more sustainable and secure energy system. IEA considers end-use sectors and electricity’s role in communities. It shows how best to use, combine and successfully promote the major categories of solar energy: solar heating and cooling, photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity, and solar fuels.

“In 90 minutes, enough sunlight strikes the earth to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year,” said Cédric Philibert, the report?s author and a senior policy analyst at the IEA, noting that this abundance has translated to “only a tiny fraction of the world?s current energy mix.” Philibert sees this changing, rapidly, into a more energy-diverse and energy-secure world with benefits to the climate and communities that need energy access.

Solar technologies are evolving faster than policies about them, the report finds. Cost/benefit analyses have been fraught with questions, and sometimes lead to abrupt policy revisions. Policies may lapse or lose momentum just a few years before they would have succeeded.

Solar Energy Perspectives looks at which solar technologies are close to competitiveness, in which circumstances and for which uses. It also reviews the different types of policy support they require and for how long and investigates ways to make them more effective and cost-effective.

Up to now, only a limited number of countries have been supporting most of the effort to drive solar energy technologies to competitiveness. Comprehensive and fine-tuned policies supporting a large portfolio of solar energy technologies could be extended to most sunny regions of the world, where most of the growth of population and economy is taking place, and where seven out of nine billion people will live in the second half of this century. Under specific circumstances, solar energy could well become a competitive energy source in many applications within the next twenty years.

This publication also depicts a world in which solar energy reaches its very fullest potential by the second part of this century. A number of assumptions are made to see what might be possible in terms of solar deployment, while keeping affordability in sight.

Under these assumptions, solar energy has immense potential and could emerge as a major source of energy, in particular if energy-related carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced to quite low levels and if other low-carbon technology options cannot deliver on large scale. While this outcome is hypothetical, it does suggest that current efforts are warranted to enrich the portfolio of clean and sustainable energy options for the future.

?Integrating all solar technologies in a system-oriented policy approach will unlock the potential of solar energy within the broader set of low-carbon technologies needed for a future sustainable and more secure global energy mix?, concludes Paolo Frankl, Head of the IEA?s Renewable Energy Division.

Order the book, Solar Energy Perspectives, here: http://www.iea.org/W/bookshop/add.aspx?id=411.

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