World may have crossed solar power ‘tipping point,’ study suggests

Worldwide chart of energy production of various technologies.

The world may have crossed a “tipping point” that will inevitably make solar power our main source of energy, new research suggests.

The study, based on a data-driven model of technology and economics, finds that solar PV (photovoltaics) is likely to become the dominant power source before 2050—even without support from more ambitious climate policies.

However, it warns four “barriers” could hamper this: creation of stable power grids, financing solar in developing economies, capacity of supply chains, and political resistance from regions that lose jobs.

The researchers say policies resolving these barriers may be more effective than price instruments such as carbon taxes in accelerating the clean energy transition.

The study, led by the University of Exeter and University College London, is part of the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition (EEIST) project.

“The recent progress of renewables means that fossil fuel-dominated projections are no longer realistic,” Dr. Femke Nijsse, from Exeter’s Global Systems Institute.

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