Solar panel capacity is set to overtake nuclear worldwide for the first time within the next few months, according to expert predictions.

The total capacity of nuclear power is currently about 391.5 gigawatts but the total capacity of photovoltaic cells is expected to hit 390 gigawatts by the end of this year with demand growing at up to eight per cent per year, according to GTM Research.

While this would be a landmark moment for renewable energy, nuclear still generates much more electricity than solar – nearly 2.5 million gigawatt-hours a year compared to the latter’s 375,000 gigawatt-hours.

Stephen Lacey, writing on GTM’s website, said: “It’s still going to be a record-breaking year for new solar capacity additions – yet again.

“The 81 gigawatts expected this year are more than double the amount of solar capacity installed in 2014. And it’s 32 times more solar deployed a decade ago. (In the year 2000, global installations totaled 150 megawatts.)

“One of the most telling statistics: By 2022, global capacity will likely reach 871 gigawatts. That’s about 43 gigawatts more than expected cumulative wind installs by that date. And it’s more than double today’s nuclear capacity.”

While solar accounts for about 1.8 per cent of global electricity generation today, the International Energy Agency has predicted this could rise to 16 per cent by 2050 under a “high-growth scenario”, which would make it the largest source of energy in the world.

And Mr Lacy said: “In the last three years, growth rates and cost reductions for solar have far exceeded projections. Meanwhile, high costs, slow construction and competitive renewable alternatives are causing the global nuclear industry to falter.

“The trend lines are becoming clearer every year.”

The Sun delivers enough energy to the Earth in an hour to provide humans with everything they need for an entire year.

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On – 22 Aug, 2017 By Ian Johnston