Solar Is the Fastest-Growing Energy, Says Top Fossil Fuel Major
The world’s growing fleet of solar panels generated a third more electricity in 2015 than a year earlier, making power captured from the sun the world’s fastest growing source of energy, according to BP Plc.
Solar generation grew 33 percent, with China overtaking the U.S. and Germany as world leader in 2015, BP said in its 65th annual statistical review into world energy published on Wednesday. The London-based oil company exited from solar in 2011 after 40 years in the business.
“Sharp cost reductions have gone hand-in-hand with rapid growth in renewable energy. Solar power production has increased more than 60-fold in 10 years, doubling capacity every 20 months,” said Spencer Dale, BP chief economist, in a speech that also predicted continued falls in the costs of solar.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance also forecasts growth in solar photovoltaics, reaching 15 percent of total electricity output by 2040, according to Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis in Zurich. “Irena’s assumptions are reasonable,” she said. “Solar just gets so cheap under any reasonable scenario.”
The “most attractive” markets for solar panels up to 2020 are Brazil, Chile, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, according to Irena. Global capacity could reach 1,760 to 2,500 gigawatts in 2030, compared with 227 gigawatts at the end of 2015, it said.
Smart grids, or power networks capable of handling and distributing electricity from different sources, and new types of storage technologies will encourage further use of solar power, Irena said.
Solar is a rapidly growing industry employing over 230,000 Americans and serving over 1,000,000 customers nationwide.