By James Noble
October 2, 2014
The sun will be the primary source of energy for our planet by the year 2050, according to a study recently released by the International Energy Association (IEA).
The IEA report states that solar technology – photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP), solar thermal, or others – will make up more than 50% of the total electricity produced in the world. A big portion of this energy will be from PV, which is predicted to make up more than 16% of the world’s electricity production.
Presently, the total amount of solar energy generated is slightly greater than 1% of our entire global power capacity.
Since 2008, the cost of solar PV has fallen by 80% and, coupled with rising costs and increased difficulties associated with oil and natural gas extraction, solar energy is set to grow exponentially.
Germany and Australia are leaders in solar energy. In Australia, solar provides 11% of the population with their power needs and new energy generation won’t be needed for another 10 years in the southeastern part of the country.
Germany has what is considered the most reliable energy grid in the world, with renewable energy sources making up 31 percent of overall power generation. The country’s solar power plants increased total production by 28 percent this past year and when combined with wind, the two make up 17 percent of all German power generation.
The potential for solar energy varies across Canada, with the largest resources in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies.
Canada’s use of solar energy has increased in recent years, although it remains relatively small in terms of overall market share. That said, the 2008-2011 period was marked by exponential growth of Canada’s installed capacity for solar PV power, with an annual growth rate of 147.3%.
Although hydroelectricity remains the largest renewable energy source in Canada, as utilities and governments pursue policies to encourage the deployment and integration of solar energy, Canada’s share of solar energy production and capacity will continue to increase.
Photo Credit: Brookhaven National Lab