Having achieved 500 GW globally in solar power by the end of 2018, we can double that number by 2023, entering a era of “terawatt-scale solar” with exponential growth to follow, argues a team of experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, MIT and 24 other leading institutions.

Whereas just two years ago 10 TW solar by 2030 sounded like a dream, it’s now a goal we can confidently target and even move beyond, the team suggests. The authors predict up to 70 TW solar capacity globally by 2050, which would make it a powerful force in a worldwide transition towards renewables.

Supporting such a large-scale transition to solar power will require action across multiple areas, however.

First of all, it’s about the quick spread of key technologies such as virtual oscillation controllers, energy storage capacity and smart grids to improve energy system integration and increase the attractiveness of solar energy among stakeholders. Solar energy will also have to improve its reliability and ensure 24/7 failure-proof provision with effective management of supply and demand.

The good news is that technological developments in solar and energy storage are coming fast, while prices have been dropping to record lows. With the development of new and more cost-effective energy storage options, the trend is likely to continue.

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