A new publication, "Solar Energy Perspectives," from the International Energy Agency explores how a wide array of solar power technologies could combine, given the right policies, to meet a growing percentage of the world's energy needs.
"While solar energy resources are abundant, their use currently represents only a tiny fraction of the world's current energy mix," said report author Cedric Philibert.
"But this is changing rapidly and is being driven by action to improve energy diversification and security, mitigate climate change and provide energy access."
The IEA warns that concerns over cost have led some governments to make hasty policy decisions that could force a reversal of any gains in the use of solar energy.
The agency calls for "comprehensive and fine-tuned policies" that back a growing portfolio of solar technology. Given the right conditions, the IEA said, solar power could become a competitive energy source within 20 years.
"Integrating all solar technologies in a system-oriented policy approach will unlock the potential of solar energy within the broader set of low-carbon technologies needed for a future sustainable and more secure global energy mix," Paolo Frankl, head of the IEA's Renewable Energy Division, said in a statement.