Two billion households worldwide could realistically be powered by solar energy by 2025, according to a joint report released by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace.

The report concludes that, thanks to advances in technology, increasing competition and investment in production facilities, solar power has now become a serious contender in the electricity market; able to provide low-cost, clean, CO2 emission-free energy.

The report also concludes that the global photovoltaic (PV) industry could potentially create more than two million jobs by 2040, plus a cut in annual CO2 emissions of 350 million tonnes – equivalent to 140 coal power plants – by 2025, and become the energy of choice for consumers.

In the past consumers have had little or no choice about their source of energy, said Sven Teske, Greenpeace international climate and energy campaigner. This report proves that solar power is a real option for consumers, offering freedom from rising energy costs and most importantly, electricity generated without the CO2 emissions. The day you install a solar generator on your roof, is independence day from your energy bill.

The next two years are crucial for solar electricity to move out of the niche market and into mainstream energy production where it belongs, Mr Teske added. For the expansion of solar power to be successful, commitment from not only the industry but also governments must play their part in the energy revolution.

In 2005, the total installed capacity of solar PV systems around the world passed the landmark figure of 5,000MW. Global shipments of PV cells and modules have been growing at an average annual rate of more than 40% for the past few years. Such has been the growth in the solar electricity industry that business in the European PV industry alone in 2005 was worth more than E5 billion; on a global scale the industry’s turnover was approximately E10 billion.