Solar energy technologies could meet one-sixth of world’s heating and cooling needs, according a report out earlier this week from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The Solar Heating and Cooling Roadmap outlines how technologies such as domestic solar water heaters, which are widely used in some countries, could become more widely adopted.
While solar heating and cooling technologies make only a modest contribution to world energy demand, says the IEA, they could eliminate some 800 megatonnes of CO2 emissions – more than Germany’s total emissions in 2009.
Solar energy could supply 16% of total final energy use for low-temperature heat and nearly 17% for cooling, says the IEA report.
The technologies could be particularly beneficial in certain countries, like South Africa that has a warm climate and limited gas infrastructure.
Using solar energy for cooling – solar thermal cooling technology – would be beneficial more widely to reduce the burden on electric grids at times of peak demand.
“Given that global energy demand for heat represents almost half of the world’s final energy use – more than the combined global demand for electricity and transport – solar heat can make a significant contribution in both tackling climate change and strengthening energy security,” says Paolo Frankl, head of IEA’s renewable energy division.
The IEA recommends that governments should create a stable, long-term policy framework for solar heating and cooling, including economic incentives and quality control standards. More research is also needed to support promising technologies so that they can reach high-volume commercial production within ten years.
For further information:
Global renewable power generation to grow 40%, says IEA (9-Jul)
Solar power closer to competitiveness than realised, says report (23-May)
European solar power installations soar in 2011 (14-May)
Global solar photovoltaic installations up 24% to 24 GW in 2011 (17-Nov 2011)
13 July 2012