Solar's Major Role in Mitigating Climate Change

The IPCC's 6th Assessment report shines a light on solar to lead climate mitigation efforts.

The latest IPCC report has issued a stark final warning – the time to act is right now if we are to mitigate the effects on climate change and limit global warming to 1.5°C, a target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

The most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  assesses global climate change mitigation progress, explaining the developments in mitigation efforts and emissions reductions. This 6th Assessment report shines a light on the fact that we are not on target to meet the emission reductions needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The report notes that in the period 2010-2019, greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise and current mitigation efforts are not enough to protect us from the grave effects this will have on the planet and society. 

Climate change is already posing a major threat to the earth and human existence.

Across the world water levels are rising due to melting ice caps which is estimated to displace 260 million people from their homes. Extreme weather events are also becoming more frequent and intense, from droughts and landslides across Africa to heatwaves and severe flooding closer to home in Europe. 

 

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The IPCC report makes it clear that there are plenty of mitigation options available to us and meeting our targets is possible with the right ambition. All of the solutions we need already exist. 

The time is now to take the necessary action to massively reduce GHG emissions, protect our planet and ensure a positive future for all.

In the report, the IPCC recognises the huge potential of renewable energies for reducing the level of GHG emissions in the atmosphere and mitigating the effects of climate change. Solar in particular is recognised as a key contributor to the mitigation efforts. Over the past decade, the cost of solar PV has fallen exponentially making it the cheapest clean energy source. This drop in price has allowed solar deployment to be accelerated across Europe and the rest of the world, and this year we reach 1TW of global installed solar capacity. 

1TW of solar can generate enough electricity to cover

41%

of all electricity generated across the EU27 in 2020

1TW of solar has the potential to equip

154

million households meaning 8 in 10 European households could be equipped with solar PV

1TW of solar can produce

1144

TWh annually, which is more than Germany and France’s annual gross electricity production combined (1102 TWh) in 2020

Beyond this, solar has the potential to grow so much more, not only playing an instrumental role in climate mitigation but also having positive impacts on society. SolarPower Europe are currently campaigning for a minimum 45% renewable energy target in Europe for 2030. By ramping up solar in Europe with a 45% RES target we will create 1.1 million solar jobs by 2030. Our #SolarWorks campaign in collaboration with Google highlights the diverse range of jobs already available in the solar sector, and connects people with resources needed to kick-start their solar career. Furthermore, solar is fundamental for improving energy security in Europe, ending our reliance on fossil fuel imports and shielding citizens from shock energy prices.

“The global technical potential of direct solar energy far exceeds that of any other renewable energy resource and is well beyond the total amount of energy needed to support ambitious mitigation over the current century.”

The IPCC 6th Assessment Report

Over the past two decades the cost of electricity generated by solar PV has fallen by 89%, and in most parts of the world is cheaper than that generated by fossil fuels. The solar industry stands ready to take solar to the next level, and it is now down to policy makers to ensure we get there. The European Commission will publish the first ever EU Solar Strategy later this year and at SolarPower Europe we believe this is the time to take unprecedented action to accelerate solar deployment.

 

Europe can reach 1TW of installed solar capacity by 2030 with the right frameworks and political will. SolarPower Europe have outlined 8 steps needed to achieve this ambitious yet obtainable goal:

 

  • Accelerate the deployment of projects 
  • Connect and integrate solar projects into the grid 
  • Develop the skills & workforce needed to deploy solar projects 
  • Deploy integrated solar PV applications 
  • Secure supply chains and access to raw materials 
  • Reinvest in domestic manufacturing 
  • Boost the deployment of rooftop solar PV during the renovation wave 
  • Develop an enabling framework for consumer-driven solar 

 

These 8 steps were presented to Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson at our solar CEO meeting during #SolarWeek, setting out exactly what solar can deliver for the EU’s climate goals in the short, medium and long-term.

What can you do?
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  • Read the latest IPCC report to stay informed (it is also summarized so you don’t need to read the whole thing!)
  • Start conversations with your friends and colleagues to spread the word
  • Support SolarPower Europe on social media:
    1. Share our 45% RES campaign using the hashtag #Yesto45RES
    2. Share our 8 actions to solar-power EU energy independence using the hashtag #EUSolarStrategy
    3. Follow our hashtag #EUSolarTW as we strive for 1TW of installed solar in the EU by 2030
Questions? Get in touch

Lily Murdoch
Communications Advisor

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