PV for Transport: a logical evolution

The decrease of PV system prices is now becoming so visible that it starts to influence decisions in the energy sector. With the cost of PV electricity going below 0,02 USD/kWh in extremely sunny locations, PV will become in the coming years the cheapest energy (and not only electricity) source of electricity for new plants. This already starts to influence energy consumption sectors such as the building and transport sector. The shift towards electricity for heating and transport materializes already the need for cleaner energy but it hasn’t yet incorporated the PV-effect. With cheap PV electricity available at mid-day (or later thanks to cheaper-than-ever storage), the pressure to use that available energy will grow in the coming years. It can be expected that the shift to electricity will be at least accelerated and most probably significantly driven by the progresses in PV deployment.

In addition, the need for flexibility that PV creates will also drive this energy shift: buildings and  transport will provide a source of flexibility that the sole electric load could hardly provide today. In that sense, PV integration in the electricity system at large will benefit significantly from these two sectors.

While the question of PV for buildings has been studied within IEA-PVPS for years (and decades), the question of transport is relatively new. The former Task 8 focused at system level on the need for such a transition but no research task ever considered how PV and Transport could be significantly intertwined and how PV could become the driver of the energy revolution in the transport sector.

Embedding high-efficiency PV in electric vehicles will increase their range and open a wide set of opportunities for new business models. Light-weight autonomous vehicles could see a large part of their energy consumption being provided by PV in sunny locations. Trains, trucks and more diverse transport vehicles could already benefit from PV as an additional sources of energy. But the complete integration of transport can also be seen as one piece of the distributed smart-grid evolution in which PV will be a key component. Batteries-on-wheels displacing PV electricity could become an essential part of a PV-driven electricity system.

Novel ideas often seem strange at first sight. They hurt conventional wisdom and incumbent’s habits. With less than 2% of the global electricity demand today provided by PV, looking at the future of transport (or buildings) through the sole PV perspective could surprise. That’s a good reason for IEA-PVPS to embrace the subject and research business models and applicability.

For more information on next workshops on PV for Transport, go to the "Events" page of our website.

Publication of the National Survey Reports

National Survey Reports (NSR) are coming in this year again. They represent the best comprehensive summary of PV policies, market development and industry data in key PV countries which are participating to the IEA PVPS program. They represent a source of reliable information for researchers, policymakers, energy experts or anyone interested in PV development.

For more than 20 years, they have been highlighting the constant change of policies and expectations from PV. Now, with a PV market above the 75 GW mark a year, the NSRs highlight the evolution towards becoming a mainstream energy source, and the constraints attached.

Find all recent and older NSRs here.

Snapshot of Global PV Markets 2017

The PV market grew in 2016 from around 50 GW to more than 75 GW, a growth unseen for years and mostly driven by China, the USA and India. The 5th edition of the “Snapshot of Global PV Markets” highlights the key features of PV development in IEA PVPS countries and globally, based on sound data sources and expertise from the IEA PVPS network.

The key aspects of PV development in 2016 were linked to the unbalanced global growth of the PV markets. While the growth in 2015 was driven by all regions, 2016 saw some countries or regions declining (Japan, Europe) whereas others were compensating (China, USA, India). The rest of the world experienced almost no growth, which can create new challenges for PV development in the coming years.

The report consists in a first sound assessment of global PV markets, while official figures won’t be known for sure before Q3 or even later. It highlights the main developments and the most important evolutions seen in the PV markets in 2016 and paves the way for a better understanding of the future.

The "Snapshot of Global PV Markets" can be downloaded here.

View the official press release here.

Official launch of the new IEA-PVPS website

PV develops and information evolves. For more than 20 years, IEA PVPS provides sound, reliable and professional information about key topics related to PV development. Based on state of the art research, more than 100 experts from 25 countries in all fields as well as the support from the International Energy Agency, IEA PVPS publishes technical and economic reports, organizes conferences and workshops on all continents.

The amount of published information has grown significantly in the last years and required some evolutions in the way IEA PVPS communicates with its stakeholders and the entire PV community. Next to social networks, a revamped newsletter, dozens of conferences organized everywhere, this new IEA PVPS website eases the access to information for researchers, policy makers and everyone interested in PV development.

Editorial of the 27th October 2016

Welcome to the 21st edition of the international survey report on Trends in Photovoltaic (PV) Applications up to 2015, provided to you by the IEA PVPS Programme.

The “Trends Report” is one of our flagship publications and a worldwide reference regarding the global photovoltaic market development. The unique series of “Trends Reports” has covered the transition of PV technology from its early and expensive niche market developments in the 1990s to the recent large scale global deployment and increased competitiveness. In contrast to 2014, 2015 has seen an impressive growth and acceleration of the global market deployment with about 50,7 GW of additional installed capacity, 26,5% above 2014, of which about 40 GW were installed in IEA PVPS member countries (2014: 34 GW). As in 2014, China, Japan and the USA lead this important growth, accounting for 33 GW of installed capacity in these 3 countries alone. 8 countries have installed more than 1 GW while another 7 countries have markets above 300 MW. The globally installed total PV capacity is estimated at roughly 228 GW at the end of 2015. Although the price reduction for PV systems has continued its trend for a slower decline in 2015, this year (2016) shows evidence of a more rapid cost reduction, in parallel with a trend towards higher overcapacities in the industry. Concerning PV generation costs and more precisely recently contracted power purchase agreements (PPAs), new record values of below 3 USDcents/kWh have been announced, confirming what is achievable today under very good market and solar resource conditions. The other side of the coin is the observation that large parts of the global PV market (78%) are still driven by financial incentives, accompanied by an increasing share of selfconsumption or net-metering (15%) and about 6% of the market coming from competitive tenders.

Yet, in many regions of the world, PV is one of the least cost options for electricity generation from new renewable energy technologies. New business models such as third-party investments and similar PV-as-a-service proposals are being developed by different stakeholders. While PV markets continue their impressive growth,  technology progresses rapidly as well with thin film technologies approaching efficiencies similar to those of crystalline silicon. In parallel, emerging PV cell concepts and novel designs lead the way where PV technology might be heading to in the future. The increasing variety of technologies, designs and appearances of PV modules open up new applications and opportunities. Grid and energy system integration issues are becoming important in countries with a high share of PV, making PV a growing player in the energy field as a whole. In summary, PV continues its impressive and dynamic development in technology, industry, applications, installed capacity, price and business models, providing great opportunities for many stakeholders along the value chain. Learn all about the details of this exciting development by reading through our 21st edition of the Trends Report!

Editorial of the 25th August 2016

2015 seems to be far behind us in terms of market development but official statistics are just starting to be released now in many sectors. PV doesn’t escape this and our IEA-PVPS National Survey Reports are coming in. After more than 20 years, each year they contribute to a better understanding of PV development in key IEA-PVPS countries with reliable information about the market, the industry, the policies and the economic context in which PV develops. These reports browse a variety of PV markets which allows the reader to understand and compare the specifics of a country with a level of detail that is not provided anywhere else. While the PV market continues to boom globally, these national reports offer a synthetic view on the policies that allowed the market to develop or not.

Editorial of the 14th June 2016

This year’s EU-PVSEC conference, co-located with the Intersolar fair, will be the occasion for the IEA-PVPS experts to present new reports and findings on multiple subjects related to PV development globally. After reports on Hybrid PV-diesel-storage systems, self-consumption, preliminary data about the 2015 global PV market and two reports on methodological guidelines on LCA and net-energy analysis, IEA-PVPS will present a brand new report, co-signed with IRENA on “End-of-Life management for PV Panels”. This report will highlight once more that the sustainable aspects of PV development represent an important subject for the PV community.

Next to these reports, IEA-PVPS with be present with a booth and will organize or take part to three side events during the EU-PVSEC conference. These workshop will look at the question of PV quality, end-of-life of PV modules and the question of PV competitiveness, with or without storage. Organized jointly with the EU-PVSEC, these events are organized with the collaboration of several organisations such as IEA-SHC, IRENA or Solar United.

Editorial of the 28th April 2016

The IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme IEA PVPS is pleased to present its 2015 annual report. A  further strong global market growth and a continued increase in competitiveness of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems make PV one of the most vibrant developments in the present energy technology landscape. Achieving levelized costs of electricity from PV as low as below 5 USDcents/kWh, establishing Gigawatt (GW) scale markets in an increasing number of countries around the world and a continuous evolution of the market framework set the scene for our collaborative efforts focussed on a further sustainable development of PV technology, industry, applications and markets.
2015 has seen close to 50 GW of additional installed PV capacity worldwide, 25 % above 2014 and raising the cumulative installed capacity close to 230 GW. As in 2014, China, Japan and the USA represented the largest markets in 2015, accounting for two-thirds of the additional installed capacity. Meanwhile, more than 50 % of the global PV capacity is being installed in the Asia-Pacific region. Nevertheless, Europe also saw a growth in absolute terms.
23 countries have now reached cumulative installed capacities above 1 GW and in at least 20 countries, PV contributes with 1 % or more to the annual electricity supply, reaching between 7 and 8 % in some European countries.
Dynamic developments in PV technology, industry and market deployment form the framework for the activities of the IEA PVPS Programme. As a leading and unique network of expertise, our mission is to cooperate on a global level in this rapidly evolving technology area. Working on both technical and non-technical issues, IEA PVPS undertakes key collaborative projects related to technology and performance assessment, cost reduction, best practice in various applications, rapid deployment of photovoltaics and key issues such as grid integration and environmental aspects. Anticipating future needs, IEA PVPS increasingly focusses on recent policy and market issues, new business models, sustainable policy frameworks as well as technical and market related integration of photovoltaics in the electricity and energy system at large. These issues relate to the latest developments and insights regarding e.g. self consumption or working more closely with utilities.
In a world where PV is becoming more and more a mainstream technology and where increasingly more stakeholders and organizations are active, providing well targeted, high-quality information about relevant developments in the photovoltaic sector as well as policy advice to our key stakeholders remain our highest priorities. Indeed, due to the increasing recognition of photovoltaics as an important future energy technology, the interest in the work performed within IEA PVPS is constantly expanding and the outreach of our efforts becomes more and more relevant. Besides the continuous exchange and cooperation within the IEA technology network, stronger ties are being built with organizations such as IRENA and the IEC.
Interest and outreach for new membership within IEA PVPS continued in 2015. After being absent from IEA PVPS for more than 10 years, Finland has rejoined our programme in 2015. We very much welcome Finland back as partner in our network. Due to the UK which has left the programme, our membership has remained at 29, keeping IEA PVPS as one of the largest IEA technology collaboration programmes (TCPs). Exploration for membership continued with Chile, Greece, India, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa as well as with EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute USA) and ECREEE (ECOWAS Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency). IEA PVPS continues to cover the majority of countries active in development, production and installation of photovoltaic power systems. We thereby strive to respond as much as possible to the increasing role that the new IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol has called for by the IEA TCPs.
Our overall communication and dissemination efforts were continued through systematic distribution of PVPS results through publications, conferences and workshops. Communication was further supported by the PVPS website www.iea-pvps.org and targeted press work. Moreover, the IEA PVPS booth and the workshops at the 31st European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference in Hamburg (Germany) attracted a large number of visitors and provided an excellent forum for dissemination purposes. More than ever, our efforts aim to engage within and beyond our network, providing up-to-date information and ultimately contributing to relevant outcomes and impacts.
The detailed results of the different PVPS projects are given in the Task reports of this annual report and all publications can be found at the PVPS website. As a unique feature, the current status of photovoltaics in all PVPS member countries is described within the country section of this annual report.
Our work would not be possible without a committed community of experts and colleagues. I therefore wish to thank all Executive Committee members, Operating Agents and Task Experts, for their ongoing and dedicated efforts and contributions to IEA PVPS.

Editorial of the 9th March 2016

While PV develops in all parts of the world, a successful COP21 climate conference pushes us all to remember why PV develops and why the question of sustainability is essential. The Task 12 of the IEA-PVPS program focuses on the analysis of sustainability aspects of PV development, and especially the understanding of the complete life-cycle of PV components. Two new studies from IEA-PVPS are defining and updating guidelines for life-cycle assessment and net energy analysis of PV plants. These two new studies are building on an already long series of past documents and studies aiming at paving the way for a better understanding of the impact PV has on the environment. 

In 2016, PV is still questioned about its ability to recyclable, emit almost no CO2, use available materials which exploitation does not cause damaging effects on the environment and consumes small amount of water compared to most sources of electricity. The task 12 of the IEA-PVPS program aims at providing sound, scientific and reliable answers to most of these questions, and the two reports recently published are an excellent example of a successful international cooperation on these key subjects.

Editorial of the 22nd January 2016

On January 22nd, 30 representatives from European utilities met in the IEA offices in Paris to discuss the evolution of business models for PV applications. This second IEA-PVPS meeting aimed at exchanging views on business models based on self-consumption of PV electricity in key European countries.

The conclusion of this second workshop was extremely simple: customers are willing to invest in PV systems to reduce their electricity bill and benefit from clean energy. The major question consists in identifying how to propose adequate, cost-competitive solutions to allow electricity customers to become prosumers, directly or indirectly. Should customers install directly PV systems on their roofs and finance them? Or should they opt for renting or leasing contracts? Or should they simply invest in PV systems installed elsewhere in exchange of free and clean electricity? All these solutions have already been tested and are proposed in several European countries by local or nation-wide utilities, with some success.

IEA-PVPS intends to recognize, through these workshops, the capital role of existing utilities in developing the PV market for prosumers. During the two workshops, major utilities from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden or Finland brought the expertise and contributed to make this workshops successful. IEA-PVPS intends to continue providing a platform for utilities, where these companies can exchange about how PV will reshape their business models and ensure their position in that fast developing industry.