Solar buildout must accelerate by up to six times 2019 levels to achieve net zero

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Image: ReNew Power.

The world will need to build five to six times as much solar and wind power per year as in 2019 if a carbon-zero economy is to be reached by the middle of the century, a study has said.

To reach that goal as well as the 90,000 – 115,000TWhs of annual global electricity supply needed, additional solar and wind capacity of around 13,000 – 18,000GW will be required by 2050, representing an investment of US$32 trillion, according to new analysis from think tank the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).

It highlights that reductions in the cost of renewable energy make a net-zero economy “easily affordable” and argues that all growth in electricity supply should now come from zero-carbon sources with no need to build any new coal-fired power capacity to support economic growth and rising living standards.

Signatories of the report say the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the unpreparedness of the global economy to systemic risks and that the massive public spending now being dedicated to stimulating economic recovery constitutes a unique opportunity to invest in a more resilient economy. The ETC estimates that additional investments required to achieve the climate goals will be between US$1 trillion and US$2 trillion per year, equivalent to 1% – 1.5% of global GDP.

“There is no doubt that it is technically and economically possible to reach the zero-carbon economy which we need by 2050; and zero must mean zero, not a plan which relies on the permanent and large-scale use of offsets to balance continued GHG emissions. But action in the next decade is crucial – otherwise, it will be too late”, ETC co-chair Adair Turner said.

The report is signed by 45 leaders from energy producers, energy-intensive industries, financial institutions and environmental advocates, including BP, HSBC, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Vattenfall and the World Resources Institute.

To put the mid-century objectives within reach, the analysis calls for regulations that create additional incentives for decarbonisation where price signals are insufficient as well as R&D investments in hydrogen, sustainable fuels and carbon capture.

The ETC blueprint is intended to allow all developed economies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, while all developing nations would be able to reach the target by 2060 at the latest, but would require development finance to de-risk and attract private green investment.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said it is necessary to build an economy that is future-proofed for the climate-related challenges as the world emerges from the pandemic. “Leaders of business and government can no longer exaggerate the costs as an excuse for delaying action. They must now cease any further investment in fossil fuels and embrace the challenge of rapidly ramping up wind and solar, which are becoming cheaper and more abundant by the day.”

Read Next

March 29, 2021
Despite additional solar and wind contributing to a record reduction in global coal generation last year, new renewable energy projects are still not being built quickly enough to keep pace with rising electricity demand.
March 18, 2021
The world’s solar power generation capacity will have to reach 14.4TW in the next 30 years to ensure that the global temperature does not rise above 1.5 degrees celsius this century.
February 25, 2021
Technologies to help tackle grid congestion could double the volume of solar and wind deployed by 2025, according to a new study.
February 11, 2021
Oil and gas major Shell has said it will spend between US$2 billion and US$3 billion on renewables and energy solutions annually to help it attain net zero status by 2050.
January 13, 2021
The US clean energy industry ended last year with the fewest number of workers since 2015, as impacts of the coronavirus pandemic mean 12% of the sector’s workforce is unemployed.
December 22, 2020
A two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar systems as well as new funding for energy storage research are included in the US’ wide-reaching pandemic relief package that was approved by Congress on Monday evening.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
April 13, 2021
Solar Media Events
April 20, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
April 28, 2021
4:00 - 4:30 PM CET