PV Mainstream Contributor to Electricity Demand

PV Mainstream Contributor to Electricity Demand

I was delighted to once again be part of a high-level gathering of stakeholders from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the photovoltaic (PV) industry while attending the 5th Executive Conference of the Photovoltaic Power Sector (PVPS) for the IEA in Montreux, Switzerland, which is held every four years since 1990.

At the gathering, I gave a speech on Europe’s Contribution to empower PV as a mainstream electricity provider. Coming from the historic development of PV deployment over the past twenty years, I was able to outline the opportunities to further drive down costs and reach greater competitiveness over a period of time. This is made possible with continued political support for the end-consumer market — fast technology development is critically important in this process which I demonstrated through various Price Experience Curves, including those we know best at Applied Materials such as flat panel displays, architectural glass and semiconductor devices.

But the real outstanding finding during this conference was that all participants including, IEA as well as leading utility, ENEL Green Power from Italy were in perfect agreement that PV will be a mainstream contributor to the future global electricity demand. It has not always been this way. For example, the IEA sees in one scenario of their “World Energy Outlook” report that it is possible to decrease energy-related CO2 emissions in 2050 by 50% to 14 Gt CO², compared to 28 Gt in 2005 (Blue Scenario) which implies a completely different energy system than what we have in place today. Their base case scenario assumes more than a doubling to 62 Gt CO² for 2050 with only a negligible contribution from renewables. In contrast, the blue scenario assumes – within the renewable portfolio – a cumulative PV power of almost 2000 GW installed in 2050, and I was informed that this summer they are even working on a “vision scenario” pushing PV to 3000 GW! This is much more aligned with what we at European PV Industry Association (EPIA) together with our umbrella renewable association the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) published recently, where we concluded a global cumulative PV base of 8000 GW in 2050, corresponding to one quarter of the global electricity!

I am very pleased to see these positive developments. A change in the mindsets of influential organizations will result in the uptake of renewable energies in principal and PV solar in particular. It is now up to us to not only continue the discussion, but also to keep demonstrating as an industry the outstanding performance we have seen to date.

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