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Solar May Produce Most of World’s Power by 2060, IEA Says

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Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Solar generators may produce the majority of the world’s power within 50 years, slashing the emissions of greenhouse gases that harm the environment, according to a projection by the International Energy Agency.

Photovoltaic and solar-thermal plants may meet most of the world’s demand for electricity by 2060 -- and half of all energy needs -- with wind, hydropower and biomass plants supplying much of the remaining generation, Cedric Philibert, senior analyst in the renewable energy division at the Paris-based agency, said in an Aug. 26 phone interview.

“Photovoltaic and concentrated solar power together can become the major source of electricity,” Philibert said. “You’ll have a lot more electricity than today but most of it will be produced by solar-electric technologies.”

The solar findings, set to be published in a report later this year, go beyond the IEA’s previous forecast, which envisaged the two technologies meeting about 21 percent of the world’s power needs in 2050. The scenario suggests investors able to pick the industry’s winners may reap significant returns as the global economy shifts away from fossil fuels.

The 17 members of the Bloomberg Large Solar Energy Index have a combined market value of about $27 billion compared with the $2.2 trillion of the MSCI World Energy Index’s 119 member companies.

Under the forecasted scenario, which Philibert will set out in more detail at a conference in Kassel, Germany, on Sept. 1, most heating and transport will switch from dirtier fossil fuels to cleaner electric power. Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector would fall to about 3 gigatons per year compared with about 30 gigatons this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sills in Madrid at bsills@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net