Latin America and Caribbean on the brink of massive solar power growth, IRENA

Latin America and the Caribbean could grow their installed solar capacity by a factor of 40 by 2050, according to a new report »Future of Solar Photovoltaic« released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Annual investments exceeding $7 billion would see the region's solar PV capacity rise from 7 GW today, to more than 280 GW by mid-century. While solar energy remains the highest in Asia, North America and Europe, market growth is set to shift to other regions in the world.
By that time, PV would represent the second-largest power source behind wind, generating a quarter of the world’s power. In total, global solar power capacity would rise from 480 GW in 2018 to over 8,000 GW by 2050, growing by nearly 9 percent every year.
»Solar PV and other renewables sources represent the most effective and ready solution for addressing growing energy demand and limiting carbon emission at the same time,« said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. »Renewables are the key to sustainable development, enabling energy access, spurring economic growth, creating employment and improving health. Particularly solar energy is set to become one of the most prominent power sources in 2050.« The global solar industry has the potential to employ over 18 million people by 2050, four times more than the 4.4 million jobs today.
Over the last decade, installed capacity of off-grid PV has grown more than tenfold, from roughly 0.25 GW in 2008 to almost 3 GW in 2018 around the world. »Off-grid PV is a key technology for achieving universal electricity access, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.« Similarly, the deployment of rooftop solar systems has increased extensively, »which today makes solar PV in some markets more attractive than buying electricity from the grid,« says IRENA. »The competitiveness of distributed solar power is clearly raising deployment in large markets, including Brazil, China, Germany and Mexico.«
According to the report, with over 50 percent of installed capacity in 2050, Asia (mostly China) would continue to dominate solar PV power, followed by North America (20 percent) and Europe (10 percent). Annual solar PV investment would have to increase by 68 percent on average globally, from $114 billion in 2018 to $192 billion in 2050. Global levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar PV will continue to fall from an average of ¢85 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2018 to between ¢5 to ¢14 cents per kWh by 2050. A recent solar and wind power auction in Colombia was awarded for an average electricity price of ¢27 cents per kWh.
Due to innovations, solar PV remains a fast-evolving industry. Floating PV is one of the most prominent examples with global cumulative installed capacity exceeding 1 GW in 2018. »Battery storage and electric vehicles are key solutions to support the grid and manage high shares of solar PV as well as to guarantee the flexibility of the power system,« says the report.
IRENA: »Future of Solar Photovoltaic. Deployment, investment, technology, grid integration and socio-economic aspects«, PDF (73 pages) free of charge, available at »«.

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