According to reports from the UN Environment Programme and the international Renewable Energy Policy Network, renewables produced over 20% of the world’s supply of electricity in 2011 and that solar power “was the big winner” in the funding of renewable electricity technologies, receiving $147 billion (A downside to cheap solar panels, New Scientist, No. 2869, 16-22 June 2012). While solar power (photovoltaic and concentrated solar power) accounted for over 57% of the renewables research budget, it produced about 0.1% of the world’s supply of electricity and contributed about 0.5% to the total electricity produced by renewables according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2011.
Decisions regarding the allocation of renewable energy research funds are up to those funding the research; however, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2011 projects that by 2035, solar power will meet only about 3% of the world’s supply of electricity and will be responsible for less than 9.5% of the total produced by renewables. The bulk is expected to come from hydroelectric (49.7%), wind (24.4%), and biomass and waste (13.5%).
Submitted to New Scientist 29 June 2012