How a solar power revolution could be launched in the Global South

Most countries in the Global South could meet their energy needs with less than 0.1 per cent solar panel coverage. 

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The new Net Zero 2050 report by the International Energy Agency showed the scale of the challenge facing the world, from stopping all oil exploration this year to tripling investment in clean energy by 2030. 

The good news is that renewables technology has dramatically improved. Solar power, for example, is the cheapest form of electricity in history, with the price falling by 82 per cent between 2010 and 2019. 

Most countries in the Global South could meet their energy needs with less than 0.1% solar panel coverage
Share of land required to generate all energy from solar (%)
Carbon Tracker Initiative

Solar is also more space-efficient than ever before, creating a huge opportunity to harness the untapped energy potential of the sun. A report by the environmental group Carbon Tracker shows that most countries in the Global South could meet all their energy needs with less than 0.1 per cent of land covered with solar panels.

Nevertheless, many African governments continue to favour coal over renewables. Vast coal plants, bigger than any solar park on the continent, are being built in countries including Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, often with financial backing from China.

In total, 2,500 new power plants will be built across Africa this decade but just 10 per cent of the continent’s power will come from wind or solar, according to a recent study published by Nature Energy.

Nick Ferris is a New Statesman Media Group data journalist 

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