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    Solar energy, the great hope for more than a billion people still living without electricity

Solar energy, the great hope for more than a billion people still living without electricity

Renewable energies, and photovoltaic plants in particular, are the United Nations’ great hope for meeting one of its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.

 

The fact that well in the 21st century there are still over one billion people on the planet without access to electricity is not only surprising, but deeply worrying. This figure, published in ‘2018 SDG7 Tracking: The Energy Progress Report’ put together by the International Energy Agency (AIE), the International Renewable Energies (IRENA), the United Nations’ Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), means that 13% of the world’s population lives without electricity today, just 12 years short of the deadline set by the WHO to meet these goals. This makes it seem unlikely, if not impossible, that the target of energy for all will be reached. The authors of the report themselves assume that, at the current rate of expansion of electricity supply, by the time we reach 2030 8% of the people on this planet will still continue to lack access to a modern form of energy.

Even so, the bodies that commissioned this research have not lost hope and are calling for redoubled efforts to extend renewable energy to those parts of the planet with the worst energy deficiencies, as in the case of Africa. The continent is home to a little over half the global population that is without electricity -600 million people -, but several countries in the region have been making significant progress over the last few years in overcoming this deficiency. Kenya’s electricity policies between 2010 and 2016 succeeded in increasing the proportion of citizens with access to electricity by 6%, [...]

Solar photovoltaic energy production soars

PV leads the pack in renewable energies growth
If the climate change goals set in the Paris Agreement are met, it will be thanks to PV energy

2017 was truly the year in which the PV industry confirmed its importance across the world. The sector has been gradually gaining ground since the beginning, but last year there was a full-scale solar revolution. In recent weeks, the headlines in annual reports of the most important institutions involved in supporting energies have made it clear that “the growth of PV energy has outstripped all other renewables, nuclear energy and even fossil fuels”.
According to United Nations’ figures, 98 GW of solar energy was produced worldwide in 2017, a record for the PV sector, quite apart from comparisons with other energy sources. This figure is for last year’s production only. But if we look at its performance over in the last decade, we see a massive upswing from the 10GW of all PV energy produced ten years ago, to the 402 GW produced today. It is even more remarkable if we bear in mind that nearly a quarter was generated in 2017 alone.

Photovoltaic tops nuclear power
Volumes of energy production using PV are already higher worldwide than nuclear energy, with the latter generating 11 GW last year (according to the same set of UN figures) and that has 393 GW of installed power, a figure which has been published in the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s latest reports. The UN, meanwhile, highlights that in 2017 other renewable sources brought a further 59 GW altogether to the energy mix, easily beating gas plant production (38 GW), coal (35 GW) and oil (3 GW).
According to the IEA, the [...]