By Brian Skinner, Esq.
In 2025, solar power is expected to overtake coal as the largest means of energy production, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual World Energy Outlook report.
Solar output is expected to lead a surge in renewable power supply in the next decade, with renewables seen accounting for 80% of growth in global electricity generation under current conditions.
The combined share of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind in global generation will rise to almost 30% in 2030 from 8% in 2019, it said, with solar PV capacity growing by an average 12% a year.
Solar projects are getting cheaper to manufacture and install, and more governments are setting ambitious targets to cut emissions and reduce their fossil fuel dependence. Solar PV is now cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries.
The IEA’s report lays out painful numbers for fossil fuel incumbents. Investors are growing more skeptical of oil and gas projects, and 2020 investments have fallen by a third compared to last year. Coal’s share of the global energy supply is expected to dip below 20% in 2040 for the first time since the industrial revolution.
Despite the increase in solar and wind power, carbon emissions are projected to pick up in 2021 after a drop in 2020, and to exceed 2019 levels in 2027.
The IEA said gaps remain in many cases between long-term ambitions and specific near-term plans to curb emissions.
Integrating new wind and solar power will depend on adequate investment in all parts of the system, including distribution networks, the report added.
But revenue shortfalls – potentially arising from lower-than-expected demand, non-payment of bills, or the deteriorating finances of utilities in developing economies – could make power grids a weak link.
Brian is the former counsel to the West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee and counsel to the West Virginia Senate Minority Caucus. He was also general counsel to the West Virginia State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. He has almost two-decades of experience as a strategic advisor and chief legal counsel to both executive and legislative branch public officials.