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FACT CHECK: Does solar tech contribute up to 20% of world’s power production?



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IBRAHIM Ali, a one-time Nigerian minister of state for petroleum resources and former managing director of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), said that “20 per cent of power generated globally is from solar”.

“Germany’s 20 per cent electricity is solar generated even when they are not as endowed as we are, sun wise. It is all about believing in yourself and your ability to identify your shortcomings and needs and which best is the way to go about solving them,” he added.

Ali, who was an honorary special adviser to former Borno State governor Kashim Shettima and in charge of executing his industrialisation policy, made the claim during an interview granted to Daily Trust in April.

Speaking primarily on the state’s recently unveiled solar panel manufacturing plant, he described the factory as “world-class”, “best and biggest in Africa”. But a fact-check by The ICIR established there are at least two others on the continent with larger production capacities.

Solar energy actual contribution is much lower

Checks revealed that the contribution of solar power to the global energy output is not up to 20 per cent. Indeed, it hovers a little above 2 per cent.

According to the International Energy Agency’s 2018 statistical overview on renewable energy, as of 2016, solar, wind, geothermal, and tide energy all constituted 1.6 per cent of the world’s total primary energy supply (This increases to 5.5 per cent if the data is restricted to electricity production). In fact, all renewable energy sources,  including hydro-power and bio-fuels, contributed only 13.7 per cent.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has, however, grown annually since 1990 at an average rate of 37.3 per cent, and solar thermal at 11.5 per cent.

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The same agency, in its report on Solar PV, last updated in May, says with its estimated growth in 2018 “the solar PV share in global electricity generation exceeded 2 per cent for the first time”.

The IEA’s figures are corroborated by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, which states that the overall contribution of solar energy to global power generation remains low at 2.2 percent.

Also, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Europe’s largest solar research institute, solar energy has contributed 10.7 per cent of Germany’s net electricity generation in 2019, growing from 7 per cent in 2017.

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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