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Latin America and Caribbean on brink of solar power growth

Published: 13 November 2019 - Carly Wills

Latin America and the Caribbean could grow their installed solar capacity by a factor of 40 by 2050, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows. 

Annual investments exceeding seven billion would see the region's solar PV capacity rise from 7GW today, to more than 280GW by mid-century. While solar energy remains the highest in Asia, North America and Europe, market growth is set to shift to other regions in the world.

By that time, solar PV would represent the second-largest power source behind wind, generating a quarter of the world’s power, Future of Solar Photovoltaic finds. In total, global solar power capacity would rise from 480GW in 2018 to over 8000GW by 2050, growing by nearly nine per cent every year. 

“Solar PV and other renewable sources represent the most effective and ready solution for addressing growing energy demand and limiting carbon emission at the same time,” said IRENA’s director-general, Francesco La Camera. “Renewables are practical, affordable and climate-safe. They are key to sustainable development, enabling energy access, spurring economic growth, creating employment and improving health. Particularly solar energy is set to become one of the most prominent power sources in 2050. Projected growth rates in markets like Latin America showcase that we can extend the energy transition to all countries. It’s possible.”

If accompanied by sound policies, the transformation driven by renewables such as solar can bring substantial socioeconomic benefits, IRENA’s new report finds. The global solar industry has the potential to employ over 18 million people by 2050, four times more than the 4.4 million jobs today.

Over the last decade, installed capacity of off-grid solar PV has grown more than tenfold, from roughly 0.25GW in 2008 to almost 3GW in 2018 around the world. With its modular and flexible nature, solar PV technology can be adapted to a wide range of off-grid applications and to local conditions. 

Similarly, the deployment of rooftop solar PV systems has increased extensively, which today makes solar PV in some markets more attractive than buying electricity from the grid. The competitiveness of distributed solar power is clearly raising deployment in large markets, including Brazil, China, Germany and Mexico.



 
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