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Solar Power: Driving the Clean Energy Economy of Tomorrow

In the realm of clean energy, a transformative shift is on the horizon, with solar PV and electric vehicles (EVs) poised to be significant factors in the emergence of a clean energy economy by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) latest report – World Energy Outlook. This report foresees a substantial transition towards a cleaner energy economy, whereby renewables are expected to play a leading role, contributing up to 80% of new power capacity by 2030, as part of The Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS). Remarkably, solar PV is projected to singlehandedly account for more than half of this transformation.

Solar is reported to be leading the change according to the IEA. Solar PV capacity, including both large utility-scale and small distributed systems collectively constitutes two-thirds of the estimated increase in global renewable capacity by 2023.

Despite its promising outlook, the IEA acknowledges that the energy landscape remains fragile. While some immediate pressures from the global energy crisis have subsided, energy markets, geopolitics, and the global economy continue to exhibit instability. The risk of further disruptions looms ominously in the background.

Nonetheless, amid these challenges, the emergence of a clean energy economy under the guidance of solar PV and EVs offers a beacon of hope for the future. With renewables now emerging as the most cost-effective source of power, the dominance of fossil fuels in the global economy is gradually weakening. Solar energy has evolved into a global industry and is set to reshape electricity markets, even within the STEPS framework. The growth of solar manufacturing is outpacing the deployment of solar PV systems, presenting both risks and opportunities for expediting the world's transition to cleaner energy sources.

By 2030 the world could have the manufacturing capacity for more than 1,200 GW of panels per year. However, achieving this ambitious goal, as outlined in the IEA report, means countries need to triple renewable energy capacity globally and investments in clean energy within developing economies. The number of countries that have policies in place to support the expansion of solar PV and wind has steadily risen and now stands at 140.

The world remains on course to experience approximately 2.4 degrees of global warming over the course of this century, a concerning prospect. The report highlights a possible oversupply of fossil gas, even though this contradicts global climate objectives. A surge in new liquified natural gas (LNG) projects has occurred since Russia's invasion of Ukraine raised concerns about gas shortages, potentially contributing nearly half of today's global LNG supply in additional capacity by 2030.

Solar PV alone cannot get the world on track to meet its climate goals, but – more than any other clean technology – it can light the way.

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