On the huge Al Dhafra solar power plant, south of Abu Dhabi, workers install a panel every two minutes on average. The site, whose construction was launched in 2020 by a consortium bringing together the French EDF Renewables, the Chinese Jinko Power and Emirati public operators, is soon to be completed. With four million solar panels and an installed power of 2 gigawatts (GW), it is one of the most massive in the world. The electricity that will be produced there – the equivalent of 160,000 homes – has already been purchased for the next thirty years.
All over the world, in the middle of desert areas such as on the roofs of private individuals, on car parks, above warehouses and factories, on lakes, along highways, on agricultural land as in cleared forests, solar panels are now being installed at an unprecedented rate. Because photovoltaics is experiencing a spectacular acceleration in its diffusion. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar is expected to represent 2,350 GW of potential power worldwide within four years, surpassing hydro in 2024, natural gas in 2026 and coal in 2027. in the production of electricity.
In 2021, the Sun – which can, by definition, only produce in broad daylight – accounted for 1,000 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity globally out of 27,000 TWh consumed (nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, etc. ). Growth in 2022 should exceed 25% for solar, spurred on by the fight against global warming and rising energy prices. A trend that is expected to increase even further. “Despite currently higher investment costs due to commodity prices, utility scale PV is the lowest cost option for new power generation in a large majority of countries around the world”notes the IEA in its annual report on renewable energies. “The cost of solar has dropped, analyzes Bruno Bensasson, CEO of EDF Renewables. What seemed to be an expensive product for rich countries has become competitive for all the economies of the world. »
Most of the major industrialized countries have broken their records in 2022 or will beat them in 2023. In new power plants installed. In energy produced. In registered projects for the next few years. “The energy crisis we are experiencing has made it possible to accelerate a transition to renewables that we were struggling to make in the name of the climate alone”summarizes Richard Loyen, one of the best French connoisseurs, president of Enerplan, an association of professionals in the sector.
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