The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 39 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (RETD TCP)


Supporting electricity consumers as PV producers

As a cross-cutting and policy-focused platform, the RETD TCP accelerates the deployment of renewables; enhances international co-operation on policies, best practices and market instruments; and supports deployment of renewable energy technologies. The improving cost trends of some technologies (e.g. solar PV modules) have resulted in sustained growth in key markets worldwide. However, policies remain critical as recent RETD TCP analysis has shown. 

A home equipped with photovoltaic panels may sell electricity to others (Utrecht, the Netherlands).*

In recent years, the cost of variable renewable technologies such as onshore wind and solar PV has declined, while key markets have expanded, resulting in new technology and business models that affect how renewable energy can be produced, distributed and consumed. A growing number of policy makers have begun to explore the potential of so-called “prosumers” – grid-connected consumers that also produce energy, partially for self-consumption, thus contributing to the wider objectives of decarbonisation and economic development.

For many, solar PV has emerged as the technology of choice due to its scalability, relatively low cost, versatility and increased availability. An increase in PV prosumers could help electricity networks become more decentralised and interactive, reducing strain on the ageing infrastructure.

The RETD TCP looked at whether significant growth of prosumers is achievable and, if so, to identify socio-economic drivers, policy options and stakeholder considerations that could affect such growth. The study identified four broad scenarios that affect development of prosumers: “no prosumers”, “constraining prosumers”, “enabling prosumers”, and a “prosumer transition”. In a “no prosumer” scenario, there is a lack of incentives (e.g. low electricity prices) as well as a lack of policies or regulations permitting interconnection or feeding into the grid. This reflects the current situation in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Countries with a “constraining prosumers” scenario take measures to prevent PV prosumer development in order to maintain a low level of competition and to protect the grid reliability. This is the case in countries where there has historically been a state-owned monopoly and an electricity network in poor condition despite good market conditions for prosumers (e.g. high electricity prices and low installation costs). According to the study of RETD TCP, this is the case for Spain and some Central and Latin American countries.

Under an “enabling” scenario, national conditions are in place to create a competitive environment for prosumers, and enabling policies allow prosumers to rapidly emerge without incentives. The drawback is the lack of planning, which results in unfair competition. In Europe, the recent boom in residential PV installations has raised concerns because prosumers do not pay the fixed costs or system taxes that grid operators may pay.

With a “prosumer transition” scenario, all the conditions are in place to facilitate growth in prosumers while protecting utilities, including suitable national conditions and enabling policies. Most importantly, policy makers have identified clear objectives for supporting prosumers, including upgrading the electricity infrastructure and encouraging development of alternative utility business models (e.g. Hawaii). Details of each scenario, together with relevant case studies and other findings are included in the report, Residential Prosumers: Drivers and Policy Options.

* Photo courtesy of Ecofys Netherlands b.v.


  • Commercial prosumers: developments and policy options
  • Integrating renewable energy: conditions, market design and renewable energy deployment
  • Next-generation policy instruments for renewable transport


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