Grid solar most proven solution to cut emissions, report says

2 min read

Grid-connected solar power is the most effective solution the world has at its disposal to help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, according to a report published by Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. 

The report predicts that 12 gigatonnes of global emissions can be wiped over the next 15 years through the use of a mix of renewable energy technologies.

Basing its findings on grid solar’s successes in Germany, the report estimates that the resource has the potential to cut 2.1 megatonnes (Mt) of emissions by 2025 and 3.2 megatonnes by 2030, more than any other technology across the spheres of renewable energy, transport, buildings, industry and agriculture.

The findings of the report were presented at the United Nations’ 21st Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21).

It highlighted the success of Germany’s solar energy industry after its cumulative installed capacity surpassed 38 GW at the end of last year, making it the world leader in the solar sector.

Germany’s success, the report says, can be scaled up to all countries and deliver an annual emissions reduction of 2.5-6.1Mt.

The falling cost of solar power make a potential investment on a grand scale possible and could deliver savings for consumers if solar power becomes cheaper than traditional power generation.

Of the 17 solutions that the report offers to cut greenhouse gas emissions, all are proven across different countries and industries. No new inventions are required to reduce carbon emissions, nor vast amounts of capital.

According to Mikko Kosonen, president of Sitra, these “solutions can make a big contribution to closing the emissions gap, without breaking the bank, and with no need for out-of-this-world inventions”.

Sitra’s stance contrasts with the views of Microsoft founder Bill Gates’, who initiated the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to support clean energy investment.

“The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future,” Gates said. “But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths – and that means we also need to invent new approaches.”

Sitra’s report simply proposes to scale up climate solutions that have already been achieved by some individual countries.

It also recommends that reducing deforestation would lead to the second biggest reduction of emissions. Brazil, for example, has successfully cut deforestation by about four-fifths. Scaling up sustainable forestry practices could achieve annual emission reductions of 4Mt by 2030. This would cost between $18bn and $45bn of investment per year by 2025 and $20bn to $53bn in 2030.

Brazil, alongside Denmark, was also hailed as a lead example in the wind energy sector, which Sitra said has potential to be the third most effective resource in emissions reduction. Replicating Brazil’s and Denmark’s use of auctions and tariff systems respectively across the world could cut 1.3Mt of emissions by 2030.

Sitra has already briefed governments in the US and Brazil on its findings and is planning to hold talks with other government officials in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on a clean energy news service operated by VB Research, a sister publication to The Engineer. The reporter, Zak Bentley, can be contacted at