Concentrating solar plants (CSP) generate solar thermal electricity (STE) while producing no greenhouse gas emissions, so it could be a key technology for mitigating climate change. In addition, the flexibility of CSP plants enhances energy security. Unlike solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, CSP plants use steam turbines, and thus can provide most needed ancillary services. Moreover, they can store thermal energy for later conversion to electricity. CSP plants can also be equipped with backup from fossil fuels delivering additional heat to the system. When combined with thermal storage capacity of several hours of full-capacity generation, CSP plants can continue to produce electricity even when clouds block the sun, or after sundown or in early morning when power demand steps up.
Solar energy is widely available throughout the world and can contribute to reduced dependence on energy imports. As it entails no fuel price risk or constraints, it also improves security of supply. Solar power enhances energy diversity and hedges against price volatility of fossil fuels, thus stabilising costs of electricity generation in the long term.
Solar PV entails no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during operation and does not emit other pollutants (such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen); additionally, it consumes no or little water. As local air pollution and extensive use of fresh water for cooling of thermal power plants are becoming serious concerns in hot or dry regions, these benefits of solar PV become increasingly important.
One of the key goals of this roadmap is to understand and communicate the value of energy storage to energy system stakeholders. This includes concepts that address the current status of deployment and predicted evolution in the context of current and future energy system needs using a “systems perspective” rather than looking at storage technologies in isolation.
As long as fossil fuels and carbon-intensive industries play dominant roles in our economies, carbon capture and storage (CCS) will remain a critical greenhouse gas reduction solution. This CCS roadmap aims at assisting governments and industry in integrating CCS in their emissions reduction strategies and in creating the conditions for scaled-up deployment of all three components of the CCS chain: CO2 capture, transport and storage.
The IEA Wind Power Technology Roadmap 2013 Edition recognises the very significant progress made since the first edition was published in 2009. The technology continues to improve rapidly, and costs of generation from land-based wind installations continue to fall. Wind power is now being deployed in countries with good resources without any dedicated financial incentives.
The 2013 Edition targets an increased share (15% to 18%) of global electricity to be provided by wind power in 2050, compared to 12% in the original roadmap of 2009. However, increasing levels of low-cost wind still require predictable, supportive regulatory environments and appropriate market designs. The challenges of integrating higher levels of variable wind power into the grid need to be addressed. For offshore wind, much remains to be done to develop appropriate large-scale systems and to reduce costs.
The Technology Roadmap Bioenergy for Heat and Power highlights the importance of bioenergy in providing heat in the buildings sector and in industry, and shows what contribution it could make to meeting steadily growing world electricity demand. The critical role of sustainability as well as the importance of international trade in meeting the projected demand for bioenergy, are highlighted in the roadmap, as well as the need for large-scale biomass plants in providing The roadmap identifies key actions by different stakeholders in the bioenergy sector, and sets out milestones for technology development in order to achieve a doubling of global bioenergy supply by 2050.
It addresses the need for further R&D efforts, highlights measures to ensure sustainability of biomass production, and underlines the need for international collaboration to enhance the production and use of sustainable, modern bioenergy in different world regions.
The solar heating and cooling (SHC) roadmap outlines a pathway for solar energy to supply almost one sixth (16.5 EJ) of the world’s total energy use for both heating and cooling by 2050. This would save some 800 megatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year; more than the total CO2 emissions in Germany in 2009.
The IEA “Biofuels for Transport” roadmap describes the steps necessary to achieve the ambitious biofuel projections presented in the Energy Technology Perspectives 2010 Blue Map scenario. Under this scenario, biofuel demand increases rapidly, reaching approximately 760 Mtoe (32 EJ) in 2050, a share of 27% of total transport fuel. This roadmap identifies major barriers, opportunities, and policy measures for policy makers, industry and financial partners to accelerate RDD&D efforts for sustainable biofuel technologies and ensure sustainable feedstock provision on both a national and international scale.
The technology roadmap for Geothermal Heat and Power offers a strategic plan to maximise deployment of these energy resources by 2050. It projects that 1,400 TWh of electricity per year could come from geothermal power by 2050, up from 67 TWh at present.
Additionally, geothermal heat (not including ground-source heat pump technology) could contribute 5.8 EJ (1,600 TWh) annually by 2050. In order to reach these targets, policy makers, local authorities and utilities need to be more aware of the variety of geothermal resources available and of their possible applications. This roadmap describes the technological, economic and non-economic barriers facing geothermal deployment, and the steps stakeholders must take to overcome them.
Concentrating solar thermal power and fuels will be part of the energy technology revolution necessary to mitigate climate change while ensuring affordable energy supply. The ETP BLUE Map scenario, which assessed strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half in 2050, concluded that CSP will provide several percent of the necessary emissions reductions to achieve stabilisation in the most cost-effective manner. CSP requires strong sunshine and clear skies. Thanks to its thermal storage and hybridisation possibilities, CSP provides firm and dispatchable electricity.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power is a commercially available and reliable technology with a significant potential for long-term growth in nearly all world regions. This technology roadmap estimates that by 2050, PV could provide 11% of global electricity production and avoid 2.3 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions per year.
Our work on Renewables
Released October 2017
Explore the key findings from our latest report on renewables, including market analysis and overview of renewable electricity, biofuels, and heat
System of Integration of Renewables (SIR)
The IEA aims to identify global best practice for integrating renewable energy into power grids and the wider energy system
Policies and Measures Database (PAMS)
The Joint IEA/IRENA database provides country-validated information on the renewables policies and measures of more than 140 countries
Good data is an essential component of effective policy making on renewable energy. Access our global datasets here
The IEA’s renewables work receives valuable inputs from governments, industry and technical experts through the working party (REWP) and the industry advisory board (RIAB)
Future Scenarios for Renewables
Access our latest modelling and analysis to gain insight into potential future scenarios for renewables globally
Detailed market analysis and overview of renewable electricity, biofuels, and heat
Status of Power System Transformation 2017
An overview of current trends in the integration of renewables and local grid development across the globe
Renewables Information 2017
Renewables Information provides a comprehensive review of historical and current market trends in OECD countries
- Solar PV grew faster than any other fuel in 2016, opening a new era for solar power
4 October 2017
- Chair of IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems TCP honoured in Amsterdam
29 September 2017
- ETP 2017 maps major transformations in energy technologies over next decades
6 June 2017
Events & workshops
Identifying Technology Innovation Needs and Opportunities Under Mission Innovation Challenge n°2: Off-grid Access to Electricity
OECD Conference Centre, 2 rue André Pascal, 75016 Paris, France
IEA Renewable heating and cooling workshop
Permanent delegation of Finland to the OECD, Paris