Solar Will Compete with Coal & Nuclear Globally by 2030

Solar Will Compete with Coal & Nuclear Globally by 2030

This week we learn from International Energy Agency that solar power could produce up to a quarter of global electricity by 2050 and be competitive with coal and nuclear plants by 2030. Prior to the Budget release, the Australian Government announced it had awarded $92 million to two large-scale solar energy demonstration projects, one in Queensland and the other in South Australia.

By Tiffany Hsu in Los Angeles Times (12 May 2010): 
International Energy Agency reports that solar power could produce up to a quarter of global electricity by 2050.

The agency released two “roadmaps” for photovoltaics technology and concentrating solar power – or solar power stations — during the Mediterranean Solar Plan Conference in Valencia, Spain. Together, the two types of solar systems could generate 9,000 terawatt hours of energy in 2050.

Concentrating solar power will be dominated by North America, North Africa and India, some of the world’s sunniest regions, the agency’s Renewable Energy Division said. It will be able to compete with coal and nuclear power plants by 2030.

Solar photovoltaics technology is expected to provide around 11% of global electricity by 2050, avoiding 2.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year – or the equivalent weight of around 340 million male elephants or 77 million whales like the one in Dana Point Harbor.

The technology is currently responsible for just 0.1% of electricity generation around the world.

The study, which was requested by the G8 member nations in a 2008 meeting as part of a series of 19 energy technologies, covers the science, financing and policy necessary to make photovoltaics an integral part of the global power infrastructure.

Solar photovoltaics generate electricity by converting sunlight using arrays of cells.

The agency recommends that governments establish long-term targets and policies around the technology to encourage investments and installations. Incentives and financing schemes, such as funding opportunities for rural projects in developing countries, would also help.

Right now, just four countries can produce more than one gigawatt of electricity from installed photovoltaics systems: Germany, Spain, Japan and the U.S. But countries such as Australia, China, France, Greece and India are catching up.

In many regions by 2020, power from photovoltaics is expected to be about as cheap as electricity from existing sources – a pricing point known as grid parity.

Global photovoltaics capacity has already been ballooning by an average of 40% each year since 2000. And public expenditures around the world for photovoltaic research and development have doubled over the same period, from $250 million in 2000 to $500 million in 2007.


Report from the Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society (ANZSES):

The Australian Government has awarded $92 million to two large-scale solar energy demonstration projects.

Combined with investment from the successful applicants, the two projects will deliver about $320 million in solar energy investment in Australia and more than 60 megawatts equivalent of solar peak load generation capacity, within the next four years.

These projects will save almost 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.

The two projects are:

-  23 megawatt solar boost to coal-fired turbines at Kogan Creek, near Chinchilla in western Queensland ($32 million), using Ausra (now Areva) Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector technology; and

-  a 40 megawatt concentrated solar thermal demonstration plant at Whyalla, South Australia, using Australia’s own “Big Dish” technology ($60 million).

Additional details of the projects follows:


• CS Energy Pty Ltd – $31.8 million

The CS Energy project at Kogan Creek in Queensland will demonstrate the Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) solar array technology developed in Australia by Ausra Pty Ltd. This technology is now being marketed world-wide by the Areva Group. The project will be attached to the existing Kogan Creek A Power Station to provide a 23 megawatt equivalent superheated steam solar boost to the coal-fired turbines. This will allow an increase in energy output as well as saving around 35,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. CS Energy is a Queensland Government-owned corporation.


• N.P. Power Pty Ltd (Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium) – $60.0 million


The Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium will demonstrate Wizard Power’s ‘Big Dish’ concentrated solar thermal power generation technology developed at the Australian 2 National University in 1994. The 40 megawatt demonstration plant at Whyalla will utilise 300 ‘Big Dish’ solar thermal concentrators that will be built on site using Wizard Power Pty Ltd’s proprietary factory-in-the-field concept.

The technology is easily scalable and a successful demonstration of the ‘Big Dish’ technology will open the way for further deployment of the technology, both within Australia and overseas. The project will generate power for about 9,500 average households and save about 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. The Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium consists of N.P. Power Pty Ltd, Sustainable Power Partners Pty Ltd and Wizard Power Pty Ltd.

ANZSES welcomes this funding announcement, and congratulates the two projects selected.  We look forward to seeing the emergence of large scale solar as a result of this announcement.


Leave a Reply