Solar PV has become a key energy technology. Continuous innovation and deployment have seen deployment levels grow from 38 GW to more than 230 GW in the last five years, driven by solar PV module price declines of up to 80% between the end of 2009 and 2015. In both developed and developing countries, large-scale utility-scale solar PV systems have beaten new gas- or coal-fired power stations in terms of costs. Rooftop solar PV systems provide households with cheaper electricity than buying electricity from the grid. Innovative solutions like solar lights and solar home systems are providing cheap electricity to non-electrified regions in Africa and Asia
Solar PV is truly changing our energy system. However, with this transformation comes new challenges that need to be addressed if the rapid growth in solar PV is continue. How do we ensure that solar PV becomes the preferred power source to satisfy future electricity demand? Solar PV has the potential (1550 GW by 2030 in the latest IRENA vision), but it is by no means a certainty and for its potential to be fully realized policy makers, regulators and investors need to set and operate in the right business, legal and regulatory environment.
Part of the solution must also be continued rapid technology progress and innovation, both learning-by-doing for monocrystalline and polycrystalline cell production and performance, as well as new technologies and materials based on fundamental R&D efforts. Systems integration and sector coupling creates new technology challenges such as the need for greater system flexibility, while electricity storage will become important early for islands and other small isolated networks and could be important in the longer term for large integrated networks as well. This will be happening against a backdrop where localised electricity production by solar PV systems will likely be cheaper than electricity from centralised power stations further away, pushing today’s utility model to its limit.
IRENA has undertaken analysis to provide a solid and compelling outlook for solar PV, and inform policy makers and the general audience of the transformative power provided by solar PV, as well as many of the many technology innovations needed. The scope of analysis is global, but is centered on two questions:
What are the opportunities and challenges for solar PV in electricity systems with stagnating versus expanding electricity needs?
What will the importance be of distributed versus centralised solar PV systems within these different constituencies?
Join the IRENA / EU PVSEC Parallel Event to hear about recent research and work by IRENA and others into the issues facing the continued accelerated installation of solar PV, with a focus on:
The evolution of Solar PV in growing and stagnating electricity markets
Recent and future trends in innovation for solar PV and the enabling technologies for high shares of variable renewables
The right enabling policies to support solar PV, the transition to a sustainable energy sector, as well as the regulatory and market changes required