The International Energy Agency (IEA) has declared solar the “new king” of electricity, arguing that, while renewables technologies as a whole are poised for rapid growth over the coming several decades, solar will be “at the centre of this new constellation of electricity generation technologies”.
The agency’s ‘World Energy Outlook 2020’ notes that, with sharp cost reductions over the past decade, solar photovoltaic (PV) is now consistently cheaper than new coal- or gas-fired power plants in most countries, while solar PV projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen.
The report notes that the lowest price announced for solar PV in a competitive auction so far is $13/MWh, achieved in Portugal in August 2020.
Under the agency’s Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), which many observers regard as overly conservative, renewables meet 80% of the growth in global electricity demand to 2030.
Hydropower remains the largest renewable source of electricity, but solar PV is the main driver of growth as it sets new records for deployment each year from 2022, followed by onshore and offshore wind.