The coming year is poised to represent a transformational period for solar power, building on the unprecedented momentum generated by governments’ desire to ensure a green post-pandemic recovery, a surge in investor confidence in solar businesses and the cheapest production costs for electricity generation.
The Global Solar Council, through its Action Plan for 2021, is actively building on this impetus with the vision to transition to 100% renewable energy earlier than is currently foreseen. This acceleration will require on the one hand systemic changes at the regulatory, financial and legislative levels and on the other individual action to adopt green solutions. These themes are central to the Global Solar Council’s agenda for 2021, which kicks off on March 18 with a webinar in collaboration with Worldwide Carbon Price –a recently established organization aimed at promoting effective carbon pricing mechanisms in economies worldwide as a way to finance the recovery from the pandemic and speed the transition to clean energy sources – and will culminate at the COP26 climate talks in the U.K. in November.
José Donoso, Chairman of the Global Solar Council, commented: “Given PV’s potential to lead a just transition to a low-carbon economy, we need to see the same kind of urgency on solar power as we have seen in developing coronavirus vaccines. Unlike with vaccines, though, we don’t have to create new solar solutions but work together to speed widescale implementation: PV technologies are clean, readily available and the cheapest way to invest in power generation in many parts of the world.”
A recent report from BloombergNEF looking at investment trends in the global energy transition found that solar PV led a jump in energy transition investments in 2020: investments in solar increased 12% year-on-year despite the economic slowdown induced by COVID-19 and accelerated at the end of the year. New solar power installations are expected to top 150 gigawatts for the first time in 2021, according to BloombergNEF, and could reach as much as 194 GW.
That boom has been reflected in financial markets’ confidence in the industry: for example, a fund entirely focused on publicly traded solar firms was the best performer among all exchange traded funds (ETFs) in 2020, gaining more than 230%.
At the same time, consumer sentiment about the urgency of climate change has shifted and a recent global survey by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the University of Oxford found citizens across the world support climate action. The People’s Climate Vote, the biggest opinion poll ever conducted on climate change, revealed two-thirds of people think climate is a “global emergency” and found majority support for more investment in the green economy in almost all G20 countries.
The Global Solar Council’s Action Plan for 2021 will center around its 2nd Virtual Forum, which will look at the prospects for solar power from two points of view: firstly, how solar PV is making a green recovery a reality and enabling opportunities for sustainable development, from employment to health; secondly, it will examine the policies, pricing and permitting practices needed to drive a global decarbonization sprint.
The Global Solar Council also intends to take the pulse of the PV industry one year after its survey to study the impact of the Covid-19 in the midst of the first wave of lockdowns and see how solar businesses are facing the current market situation. At the same time, the GSC’s three emerging market task forces are active in facilitating adoption of solar power and disseminating best practice approaches in Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America. Their work will be shared in dedicated webinars, leading up to the Global Solar Council’s participation in the COP26 at the end of the year.
Gianni Chianetta, CEO of the Global Solar Council and President of WCP, stated: “Solar power is the leading force for climate action today and should benefit from a level playing field. This is why we have partnered in founding and leading Worldwide Carbon Price, connecting all carbon pricing initiatives globally and ensuring a common set of principles. All incentives for fossil fuels have to end, considering an appropriate just transition approach, if we want to accelerate towards 100% renewables.”