Posting in Energy
A new IEA report taps solar as a promising energy source to meet the world's need and reduce emissions. But there's one major caveat to pulling it off.
A new report released Thursday by the International Energy Agency says solar could provide a third of global energy by 2060. But there's a giant 'if' attached to that rosy projection: The world's lawmakers must adopt a broad range of policies that include incentives for early deployment, subsidizing research and development and removing non-economic barriers such as grid access and permitting.
Most importantly, countries should move away from subsidizing certain solar technologies and instead establish a carbon price, a strategy that will encourage a broader view of the energy transition, Paolo Frankl, the agency's head of renewable energy told Bloomberg.
The IEA report builds off other analyses that have come before it and aims to provide an updated picture of solar technology trends and markets. According to the report, solar energy will be the available and make the most sense in warm and sunny countries -- which is a rather obvious insight. But the population growth figures the IEA included drives home the point.
Sunnier countries, those zones around the equator, will house about 7 billion people or 80 percent of the world's population by 2050 versus 2 billion folks who will live in cold and temperate countries that includes most of Europe, Russia and parts of China and the United States.
The report noted that in most markets solar electricity is not yet able to compete without specific incentives. However, costs have dropped enough that solar thermal electricity and solar photovoltaic electricity are competitive against oil-fueled electricity generation in sunny countries, usually to cover demand peaks, and in many islands, the report said.
Not surprisingly, the report touted the good news story about photovoltaics and its deployment throughout the world. Curiously, the author sees solar thermal electricity as complementing PV, not competing with it.
When it comes to U.S.-based utility-scale projects, that has not been the case. At least not in 2011. Several U.S. utility-scale projects have made the switch from solar thermal to PV including, Solar Millennium's decision in October to sell its Blythe solar farm and three other projects in its pipeline to solarhybrid. The 2.25 gigawatts worth of projects will be built with solar panels and not concentrated solar power technology as originally envisioned.
Still, the IEA sees a future in solar thermal both in large utility-scale projects and even in smaller applications to support isolated or weak grids.
Photo: Torresol Energy
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Dec 1, 2011
Let's drop the "carbon" issues and the notion that a technology has to be subsidized to become predominant. 1st, carbon is the most basic element of life on earth. 2nd, CO2, despite a 2009 EPA endangerment finding stating that the gases pose a serious threat to human health and public safety, is a result of every living/breathing thing on earth and is essential to the survival of our planet. 3rd, solar power, without heavy tax payer funded subsidies will never be viable. Let entrepreneurs and the free market create the next new source of energy.
Poor countries need to get solar and wind energy that is cheaper than using LPG or diesel (including biodiesel) that has an infrastructure to get supplies to use it. Solar will work if it's cheap, easy to use, and you can get it fixed easilyand of course it will be a "renewable" resource. However, my real worry is that solar panels use toxic metals. T Like the new "light bulbs" that use less energy but will be discarded in our landfill and rivers (where poor folks generally throw their trash in rural areas) I worry that years from now we will have mercury and other toxic metals in our ground water.
Solar and wind will never be a viable replacement for our existing generating capacity until we develop storage technology that will allow energy collected this way to be metered out consistently and reliably. As these technologies exist now, utilities must maintain on-line a large reserve capacity (mostly carbon based) that can kick in any given moment for when the sun doesn't shine somewhere or the wind shifts.
I would estimate that about 40% of the US electrical energy will be provided by solar by 2030 (assuming the amount of electricity stays the same). Start Year Number of Years Growth Rate Percentage 2012 3 45% 0.15 2015 5 50% 1.16 2021 5 45% 7.42 2026 5 40% 39.90 These are actually a conservative estimate. According to the latest statistics there was 64.7% more solar electricity produced in August of 2011 compared to August of 2010. The year to date growth for 2011 including August where 43.9% http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/pdf/epm.pdf There is a nice article about pojected solar growth ( http://2greenenergy.com/wanted-people/16351/ ).
The carbon to be worried about is not the carbon you exhale. It's the carbon that's been buried for tens or more millions of years that we are digging up and burning that is cause for concern. Solar PV power will be cheaper than coal before 2020. Subsidies merely increase the rate of deployment and get us ahead of the game..