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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Is cap and trade the climate solution? The jury's still out
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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 21-21:

  • Supreme Court Nominee’s Climate Record
  • The Good That Wind Does
  • How Solar Serves The Heartlands

    Tuesday, October 07, 2014


    Technology Roadmap, 2014: Solar Photovoltaic Energy

    September 2014 (International Energy Agency)

    Key Findings and Actions

    z Since 2010, the world has added more solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity than in the previous four decades. New systems were installed in 2013 at a rate of 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity per day. Total global capacity overtook 150 gigawatts (GW) in early 2014.

    z The geographical pattern of deployment is rapidly changing. While a few European countries, led by Germany and Italy, initiated large-scale PV development, PV systems are now expanding in other parts of the world, often under sunnier skies. Since 2013, the People’s Republic of China has led the global PV market, followed by Japan and the United States.

    z PV system prices have been divided by three in six years in most markets, while module prices have been divided by five. The cost of electricity from new built systems varies from USD 90 to USD 300/MWh depending on the solar resource; the type, size and cost of systems; maturity of markets and costs of capital.

    z This roadmap envisions PV’s share of global electricity reaching 16% by 2050, a significant increase from the 11% goal in the 2010 roadmap. PV generation would contribute 17% to all clean electricity, and 20% of all renewable electricity. China is expected to continue leading the global market, accounting for about 37% of global capacity by 2050.

    z Achieving this roadmap’s vision of 4 600 GW of installed PV capacity by 2050 would avoid the emission of up to 4 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

    z This roadmap assumes that the costs of electricity from PV in different parts of the world will converge as markets develop, with an average cost reduction of 25% by 2020, 45% by 2030, and 65% by 2050, leading to a range of USD 40 to 160/MWh, assuming a cost of capital of 8%.

    z To achieve the vision in this roadmap, the total PV capacity installed each year needs to rise rapidly, from 36 GW in 2013 to 124 GW per year on average, with a peak of 200 GW per year between 2025 and 2040. Including the cost of repowering – the replacement of older installations – annual investment needs to reach an average of about USD 225 billion, more than twice that of 2013.

    z Utility-scale systems and rooftop systems will each have roughly half of the global market. Rooftop systems are currently more expensive but the value of electricity delivered on consumption sites or nearby is greater. However, as PV expansion is driven more and more by self-consumption – the use of PV electricity directly at the same site where it is generated – grids may carry smaller amounts of traded electricity, raising concerns over how to recover the fixed costs of grids. Grid operators, regulators and policy makers should monitor the impact of rapid expansion of distributed PVs on distribution networks. Rate changes ensuring full grid cost recovery and fair allocation of costs might be considered but should be carefully designed in order to maintain incentives for energy efficiency and the deployment of rooftop PV.

    z The variability of the solar resource, as of wind energy, is a challenge. All flexibility options – including interconnections, demand-side response, flexible generation, and storage –need to be developed to meet this challenge so that the share of global electricity envisioned for PV in this roadmap can be reached by 2050.

    z PV has to be deployed as part of a balanced portfolio of all renewables. In temperate countries, wind power tends to be stronger during winter and hence compensate for low solar irradiance. In hot and wet countries, hydropower offers considerable resource in complement to solar PV. In hot and arid countries, solar thermal electricity with built-in thermal storage capabilities can generate electricity after sunset, complementing the variability of PV and thus adding more solar electricity to systems – potentially making solar the leading source of electricity by 2040. 1

    z Despite recent falls in the cost of PV electricity, transitional policy support mechanisms will be needed in most markets to enable PV electricity costs to reach competitive levels, as long as electricity prices do not reflect climate change or other environmental factors. The vision in this roadmap is consistent with global CO2 prices of USD 46/tCO2 in 2020, USD 115/tCO2 in 2030, and USD 152/tCO2 in 2040.

    z In the last few years, manufacturing of PV systems has been concentrated in Asia, particularly in China and Chinese Taipei, mainly based on economies of scale in large new production facilities. Future progress is likely to be driven mainly by technology innovation, which keeps open the possibility of global deployment of manufacturing capabilities if research and development (R&D) efforts and international collaboration are strengthened.

    z Appropriate regulatory frameworks – and well-designed electricity markets, in particular – will be critical to achieve the vision in this roadmap. PV costs are incurred almost exclusively up-front, when the power plant is built. Once built, PV generates electricity almost for free. This means that investors need to be able to rely on future revenue streams so that they can recover their initial capital investments. Market structures and regulatory frameworks that fail to provide robust long-term price signals – beyond a few months or years – are thus unlikely to deliver investments in volumes consistent with this roadmap in particular and timely decarbonisation of the global energy system in general.

    Key actions in the next five years

    z Set or update long-term targets for PV deployment, consistent with national energy strategies and national contributions to global climate change mitigation efforts.

    z Support these targets with predictable market structures and regulatory frameworks to drive investment.

    z Address non-economic barriers. Develop streamlined procedures for providing permits.

    z Identify the cost structure of current projects and any anomalies in comparison with projects in other jurisdictions. Implement specific actions to reduce anomalous costs.

    z Work with financing circles and other stakeholders to reduce financing costs for PV deployment, in particular involving private money and institutional investors.

    z Reduce the costs of capital and favour innovation in providing loan guarantees, and concessional loans in emerging economies.

    z Strengthen research, development and demonstration (RD&D) efforts to further reduce costs.

    z Strengthen international collaboration on RD&D and exchanges of best practices.

    z In emerging PV markets:

    z Implement priority connection to the grid and priority dispatch of PV electricity.

    z Implement support schemes with fair remuneration for investors but predictable decrease of the level of support.

    z When parity with retail electricity prices is achieved in some market segments, provide incentives for distributed PV generation through net energy metering and/or tariffs for energy (total generation or only injections into the grid) based on a value of solar electricity determined through a transparent process open to all interested parties.

    z In mature markets:

    z Progressively increase short-term market exposure of PV electricity while ensuring fair remuneration of investment, for example with sliding feed-in premiums and/or auctions with time-of-delivery and locational pricing.

    z Provide incentives for generation at peak times through time-of-delivery payments.

    z Provide incentives for self-consumption during peaks through time-of-use electricity rates.

    z Improve forecasts and reform energy-only electricity markets for better synchronisation of supply and demand.

    z Design and implement investment markets for new-built PV systems and other renewables, and markets for ancillary services.

    z Progressively reform rate structures to encourage generation and discourage consumption during peak times, ensuring the recovery of fixed costs of the transmission and distribution grids while preserving the incentives for efficiency and distributed PV.

    z Avoid retroactive legislative changes.

    z Work with financing circles and other interested parties to reduce financing costs for PV deployment, in particular involving private money and institutional investors.

    z Strengthen research, development and demonstration (RD&D) efforts to further reduce costs.

    z Improve quality via more diversified module qualification, and certification of developers, designers and installers.

    z Strengthen international collaboration on RD&D and exchanges of best practices.

    z Support best practices in developing economies, in particular for providing access to electricity based on off-grid and mini-grid PV systems.


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