A solar boom driven by falling costs and surging production capacity is putting the world economy on track for decarbonisation.
A report released by Australian think tank Climate Energy Finance found China is leading by a huge margin, with the world on the brink of a dramatic acceleration in the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
“The economics of solar power are now compelling, and will only get stronger this decade,” lead author Tim Buckley said on Wednesday.
Solar module prices have dropped by a third from 2021 and the research forecasts solar electricity costs to halve by 2030.
Further, technological advances could result in solar panels lasting up to 50 years – almost double existing assumptions.
Solar has achieved record annual installs every year this decade and could hit 1000GW of solar installations per year by 2030, according to the report.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the start of 2022 focused global attention on energy security and the need for diversity of supply.
China’s dominance in key energy transition sectors, including solar module manufacturing supply chains, has also been front of mind for Western governments.
Amid trade tensions with China, the US Inflation Reduction Act, which provides generous tax credits to grow clean energy, is driving an expected five-fold expansion in American solar manufacturing capacity by 2024.
Meanwhile India plans to treble annual solar installs over five years and Europe is bankrolling a production expansion with solar installations set to quadruple to 80GW by 2030.
Australia, the sixth largest solar market globally, had 30GW of solar installs at the end of 2022, and installs are tipped to continue at 4-6GW per year (3GW each year as rooftop solar).
Coupled with a surge for electric cars and battery supply chains, Australia is expected to become a “cleantech” superpower in the new world economy.
But the report also calls for Australia to decouple its economy from the historic dependence on fossil fuels and play to its competitive advantages in critical minerals and renewable energy.
* A $100 billion strategic national interest capital commitment by the federal government, to attract private investment of up to $300b.
* Mobilisation of Australia’s world-leading pool of superannuation capital into zero-emissions investments.
* A clear and ambitious value-added critical minerals strategy to secure a position in the global supply chain.
* Tax incentives for domestic clean tech manufacturing, including solar and offshore wind supply chains.
* Rigorous regulation of methane emissions to further push industry capital investment towards cleantech.
* More funding, particularly in housing, to accelerate solar uptake, energy efficiency and electrification.
(Australian Associated Press)