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P.V. Could Supply 2 Billion Households By 2025

Sep 19, 2006 - Green Building Press

Photovoltaic solar panels could generate enough electricity to supply 2 billion households by 2025, according to a report by Greenpeace and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). The report, Solar Generation, says that the PV industry would be capable of producing 276 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity a year worldwide by 2020, rising to 589TWh by 2025, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 350 million tonnes a year.

By 2025, the industry could employ 3.2 million people and supply 1.6 billion off-grid and 290 million grid-connected customers, the report says. By 2040, it could be meeting 16% of world electricity demand, compared to 0.05% at present. However, it warns that "a major shift in energy policy will be needed" if the industry is to fulfill its potential. It calls for all countries to follow the example of those with good support systems for solar energy, such as Germany and Japan.

Sven Teske, a Hamburg-based climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, said that the projected take-up is much higher for homes not connected to electricity grids, because solar power is already competitive with alternatives such as diesel generators. But the majority of off-grid customers are in the developing world, and so cannot afford to buy the equipment without assistance, even though it would prove cheaper in the long-run. "What we need is smart financing schemes," he said.

PV will be competitive for grid-connected customers in central and southern Europe, where electricity prices are already high, by 2012-15, Teske added. Winfried Hoffman, president of the EPIA, said that in 2006, the solar industry would invest well over €1 billion [€1.27 billion] along the whole value chain in new solar factories and R&D. Gradually the increasing investment would expand the economy of scale and lower the costs for solar photovoltaic systems. She believs that the global PV industry is ready to invest even more for years to come, but says there must be a supportive political climate for the next 10 years to enable the investment to pay off.

Green Building Press


Updated: 2003/07/28