Solar energy is set to play a major role in the renewables revolution, with the resource widely available at most latitudes, and especially between the tropics.
Solar PV power is already the most widely owned electricity source in the world in terms of number of installations, and its uptake is accelerating, a recent IRENA report points out. In only five years, the global installed capacity has grown from 40GW to 227GW. By comparison, the entire generation capacity of Africa is 175GW.
Driven primarily by dramatic cost reduction - with potential for further reduction - solar PV now represents more than half of all investment in the renewable energy sector. In 2015, at 47GW, solar PV accounted for 20% of all new power generation capacity. And from around 2% in 2016, the share of global electricity generated from solar PV could grow to as much as 13% by 2030 if the annual PV capacity additions more than double in that period.
International Solar Alliance to drive solar
Recognising the importance of solar as a resource, 121 countries led by India have come together in the International Solar Alliance, which was launched at COP21 in Paris last December. [Engerati-COP 21 Climate Agreement Sets Scene For Energy Sector]
The aim of the Alliance is to provide a platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries with the view to increasing the utilization of solar PV in these countries. Many of them are developing countries which, in addition to new generation capacity, have electrification and other off-grid requirements, such as irrigation in the agriculture sector, that can most readily and sustainably met by solar energy systems.
According to the IRENA report, citing Lighting Global and Bloomberg New Energy Finance figures, by 2020 one-third of all off-grid households are expected have at least one solar PV product in their home. Currently around 89 million people in developing countries have at least one solar lighting product in their home.
Specific activities of the Alliance include promoting solar technologies, formulating projects and programmes and developing innovative finance mechanisms to reduce the cost of capital.
Alongside these activities, in its founding declaration the Alliance committed to mobilising more than US$1 trillion for investments in solar energy by 2030. Through an agreement the World Bank will now support this initiative, using its global development network, knowledge and financing capacity to promote the use of solar energy.
As part of this activity the World Bank will develop a roadmap to mobilize financing for the development and deployment of affordable solar energy, and work with other multilateral development banks and financial institutions to develop financing instruments to support solar energy development.
US$1 billion for solar in India
The World Bank also has committed to providing more than $1 billion to support India’s ambitious solar programme, which aims to add 100GW of solar – including 40GW on rooftops – by 2022. [Engerati- Going Solar On Rooftops: India targets 40GW by 2022]
World Bank-supported projects under preparation in India include solar rooftop technology, infrastructure for solar parks, bringing innovative solar and hybrid technologies to market, and transmission lines for solar-rich states. These solar investments for India combined would be the Bank’s largest financing of solar for any country in the world to date.
“Prime Minister Modi’s personal commitment toward renewable energy, particularly solar, is the driving force behind these investments,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The World Bank Group will do all it can to help India meet its ambitious targets, especially around scaling up solar energy.”
As part of this commitment the World Bank has signed an agreement with the Government of India for the US$625 million Grid Connected Rooftop Solar programme. The project will finance the installation of at least 400MW of solar PV installations.
The development of a US$200 million Shared Infrastructure for Solar Parks project is also under preparation. The project will support privately developed solar parks in a number of states across India. The goal is to set up at least 25 solar parks by 2020.