In the last ten years the price of solar power — its installation costs as well as electricity prices derived from it — have come down enormously. The latter will soon be comparable to electricity costs derived from fossil fuels. China is by far the largest producer and installer of PV cells not because its government have been persuaded by the man-made carbon dioxide lobby but because making them is a large and profitable exporting industry.
Even in China, where vast installations are being built in the Gobi desert, PV technology will only deliver about 10% of its electricity requirements by, say 2050, and probably no more than 20% by 2100. However, by then, China’s population should be shrinking and so, from then onwards, the proportion of solar power used in its economy ought to be able to be growing steadily.
World-wide, it is estimated that solar power will make up between 10% and 15% of power generation of the whole, particularly in those countries in equatorial latitudes with a high number of sunny days in the year. Many of these are Third World countries and it’s problematical whether they will be able to invest sufficiently in the high installation costs. True, these would pay off within about 5 to 10 years but can they afford to wait that long and how they be able to use the electricity productively by making goods for export that China or the First World countries don’t already monopolise ?
It looks dubious, at least for another 30 or 40 years. The advanced nations, which traditionally used to be able to supply large loans to undeveloped countries, can’t do so until their own governments have worked off their own large debts. This would require economic growth of at least 3% per annum — better still 4% — for at least a decade. So far, there is little prospect of that..