By 2050, solar energy could become the world’s main source of electricity. Passing all other forms of renewable energy, as well as fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report that claimed that using solar panels to generate electricity using solar power has the potential to generate 16% of the world’s electricity. They also claimed that an extra 11% could be generated as solar thermal energy, by using concentrating solar power (CSP) plants.

Solar energy could become the world’s main source of electricity.

This use of solar energy could have a significantly positive impact environmentally as the increase in the use of solar power is set to prevent 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from being emitted into the atmosphere. Helping to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources, including solar energy, will never run out, meaning we can continue to harness the power of the sun to meet our electricity needs without damaging the planet or contributing to climate change.

Renewable energy sources will never run out.

In 2021, a study carried out by energy researchers, at the University College Cork in Ireland, predicted that the world had 0.2 million km2 of available roof space that could integrate solar panels. They also predicted that if all these solar panels were installed, they could produce 27 petawatt hours of electricity annually. When compared to 2018’s figures, the electricity generated would provide the whole world with electricity, with the potential to store any surplus energy, such as in a solar battery.

The researchers have, however, pointed out that not all roof space is viable for solar energy generation due to several factors, including shading, orientation, and sun irradiance.

If the UK makes solar power, or any other renewable energy such as wind power or hydropower, a priority, it will be on its way to reaching its 2050 net zero goal.

Energy Crisis

Triggered by the invasion by Russia into Ukraine, the world is facing an energy crisis meaning that countries around the world are looking for more stable and reliable sources of energy. This has meant that many of these countries are now looking towards making renewable energy one of the largest contributors to the solution for their energy demands.

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, has claimed that due to this global energy crisis, the use of renewables, including solar energy, is now in an:

“extraordinary new phase of even faster
growth as countries seek to capitalise on their
energy security benefits”.

The IEA have also predicted that due to this crisis and the rate of the movement towards renewable energy, by 2027, renewable energy will account for roughly 40% of the entire world’s energy output.  By this time the world will also see a significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas, and coal. The IEA have also claimed that increasing the use of renewable energy sources, including solar energy, wind power, and hydropower, will also lower the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity. By 2027, the IEA have predicted that the use of solar energy will have reached 20% globally.

Energy Security

The IEA’s report also made claims that Europe should begin storing energy for future months, especially the winter months. This is due to many countries wanting to reduce their dependence on imported fossil fuels. The report stated that many countries are already doing this:

“The global energy crisis is driving a sharp acceleration in installations of renewable power, with total capacity growth worldwide set to almost double in the next five years”.

For more information on solar energy, see our guide: