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International body: solar to produce majority of global power

30th Aug 2011

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast solar power to be the leading source of energy within 50 years.

Australia can view the prediction as welcome news for consumers looking to invest in the future of the environment and their energy security needs.

IEA senior analyst Cedric Philibert told Bloomberg: "Photovoltaic and concentrated solar power together can become the major source of electricity."

"You’ll have a lot more electricity than today but most of it will be produced by solar-electric technologies,” he says.

Philibert believes that fossil fuels will fade in prevalence as global powers take up cheaper, renewable alternatives.

With widespread adoption across the globe, carbon emissions will fall, with IEA's estimates expecting a drop from the current level of 30 gigatons to three gigatons by 2060.

Bloomberg reports that the prediction will form part of a study scheduled to be released later this year.

Previously the IEA predicted that solar and photovoltaic technology would be responsible for 21 per cent of the world's energy generation.

The reasoning behind the revision will be detailed at conference in Germany on September 1, 2011.

Australia can take comfort in the prediction, particularly given the current situation in the local solar sector.

Reliance on fossil fuels as the country's predominant source of energy generation has contributed to a wealth of carbon pollution.

It also means that our traditional energy infrastructure has been built around coal-fired power, with the sector being the predominant source of electricity for Australians.

This has meant that the transition to renewable energy will be a lengthy process, requiring government support to shift the way in which the country generates and uses energy.

Australia has seen the beginning of a new era, with thousands of households and businesses installing solar panel systems on rooftops across the nation.

As technology develops, solar power will become more competitive with coal-fired power, as consumers see the benefits of generating electricity at home, as opposed to buying it from the grid.

Individual states in Australia have set solar targets to meet over the next few years, meaning that state initiatives will ideally work alongside the federal government's new push for a switch to renewable energy.

Governments both at home and abroad also have additional incentives to help build the solar industry beyond environmental targets.

As the industry develops, more jobs are created to help research, develop, manufacture and install solar panel technology.

-Mike Peacock: Solar Correspondent

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