Working together to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy

Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy

Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy
Download publication

Edition: 2010
48 pages


Translations: Chinese (foldout)

Release Date: 11 May 2010

Overview

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power is a commercially available and reliable technology with a significant potential for long-term growth in nearly all world regions. This technology roadmap estimates that by 2050, PV could provide 11% of global electricity production and avoid 2.3 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions per year.

Achieving this roadmap’s vision requires an effective, long-term and balanced policy effort in the next decade to allow for optimal technology progress, cost reduction and ramp-up of industrial manufacturing for mass deployment. Further, governments will need to provide long-term targets and supporting policies in order to build confidence for investments in manufacturing capacity and deployment of PV systems.

With effective policies in place, PV on residential and commercial buildings could achieve grid parity – i.e. with electricity grid retail prices – by 2020 in many regions. In this scenario, utility-scale PV could become competitive in the sunniest regions by 2030 and provide 5% of global electricity by 2050. As PV matures into a mainstream technology, grid integration and management and energy storage become key issues. The PV industry, grid operators and utilities would need to develop new technologies and strategies to integrate large amounts of PV into flexible, efficient and smart grids.

 

Key Findings

  • By 2050, PV global cumulative installed capacity could reach 3 000 gigawatts, providing 4 500 TWh per year, i.e. around 11% of global electricity production. In addition to avoiding 2.3 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 per year, this level of PV would deliver substantial benefits in terms of the security of energy supply and socio-economic development.
  • In the first decade, PV is expected to reduce system and generation costs by more than 50%. PV residential and commercial systems will achieve the first level of grid parity – i.e. parity with electricity retail prices – by 2020 in many regions. As grid parity is achieved, the policy framework should evolve towards fostering self-sustained markets, with the progressive phase-out of economic incentives, but maintaining grid access guarantees and sustained R&D support.
  • Towards 2030, typical large-scale utility PV system generation costs are expected to decrease to USD 7 to USD 13 cents/kWh. As PV matures into a mainstream technology, grid integration and management and energy storage become key issues.
  • The PV industry, grid operators and utilities will need to develop new technologies and strategies to integrate large amounts of PV into flexible, efficient and smart grids.
  • Governments and industry must increase R&D efforts to reduce costs and ensure PV readiness for rapid deployment, while supporting longer-term technology innovations.
  • There is a need to expand international collaboration in PV research, development, capacity building and financing to accelerate learning and avoid duplicating efforts.
  • Emerging major economies are already investing substantially in PV research, development and deployment; however, more needs to be done to foster rural electrification and capacity building. Multilateral and bilateral aid organisations should expand their efforts to express the value of PV energy in low-carbon economic development.

Energy Technology Perspectives 2012:

Related links:

Workshops:

Additional Information: