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Solar power giving global renewables a helping hand

28th Jun 2013

It's been a tumultuous few weeks for Australian solar power, with a veritable rollercoaster of highs and lows.

On the one hand, we've seen the country's largest concentrated photovoltaic plant completed in Victoria, while on the other the ACT decided to reduce its rebate for solar power.

Despite this, new research appears to show that solar power remains on a steady course globally, experiencing solid growth and contributing to the renewables cause worldwide.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (MTRMR) revealed that sustainable technology is now the fastest-growing power-generation industry and will contribute nearly 25 per cent of global output within five years.

And solar is playing its part, with the IEA claiming it is now becoming increasingly cost-competitive with traditional power sources.

"Solar is attractive in markets with high peak prices for electricity, for instance, those resulting from oil-fired generation," the report said.

"Decentralised solar photovoltaic generation costs can be lower than retail electricity prices in a number of countries."

According to the agency, renewables overall will experience 40 per cent growth by 2018, despite a difficult economic environment.

And while hydropower is spearheading this due to its cost-competiveness, sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy are expected to double their total contribution to global markets up to eight per cent within five years.

IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven stated: "As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation."

Van der Hoeven said this is "good news" for the global energy market, paving the way to a cleaner and more diversified system.

However, she warned against countries resting on their laurels - especially governments of OECD nations, who she claimed must not get complacent and continue on the path of environmentally friendly solutions.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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