Solar PV capacity must reach 5.2TW by 2030 to meet 1.5°C Paris climate goal

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Asia will be the region with the most solar PV installation with 210GW each year until 2030. Image: 8minute Solar Energy.

Operational solar PV capacity must reach 5.2TW by the end of the decade in order to meet the 1.5°C Paris climate goal, according the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) latest World Energy Transition Outlook.

The 2022 edition of IRENA’s flagship report states solar PV is not installing fast enough to reach a capacity necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050, suggesting installs must nearly quadruple from the ~126GW it says was installed in 2020 to 444GW each year until 2050.

By 2050, IRENA has argued the total installed solar PV capacity must exceed 14TW.

Asia, North America and Europe will be leading renewables installations by 2030 with more than 80% of total installations globally. Moreover, the report expects Asia to add 210GW per year of solar PV this decade, accounting for half of the world’s installations, led by China and India. North America will need to install 90GW per year until 2030 and Europe 55GW each year.

By 2050, installations of renewables will need to reach 26.8TW, half of which will come from solar PV.

Global investments in renewables will amount to US$25.9 trillion by 2050, with an annual investment of US$1 trillion per year until the end of this decade with more than a third (US$338 billion) in solar PV alone, more than treble investments in the technology pre-COVID-19. Asia will be the region with the highest investment needed with US$10.9 trillion, followed by North America (US$4.7 trillion) and Europe (US$3.6 trillion).

However, the report outlines some obstacles that could slow down solar PV installation such as grid connection and flexibility, lack of skilled workers and unfavorable policy frameworks. Until 2030, US$648 billion will need to be invested in order to improve grids and grid flexibility and will be increased to US$775 billion during 2031-2050.

Cost competitiveness of renewables lowered prices of power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the past few years with IRENA’s data on average prices of PPAs for 2022 set to US$0.04/kWh, almost a third less than coal, the cheapest fossil-fuel competitor, with several projects since 2018 with electricity costs lower than 0.02/kWh in the Middle East.

Solar PV and wind alone will be supplying 42% of total electricity generation by 2030, it currently sits at 10% today.

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