First Float Column
An history of past editorials from the homepage of the IEA-PVPS website.
29 June 2015 - Lessons Learned from 2014
The speed at which the PV market evolves is exceptional in the energy sector. 2014 is over for more than 5 months and everyone has already the eyes on 2016, forgetting how much the experience from the past can be useful.
2014 was one more special year for the PV sector: again the market increased but less than what was forecasted by many observers (see here) and the main evolutions will be analyzed in the next version of the Trends report that will be published in September 2015 (see here the previous versions). But it was special because it brought into the light the current transformation that the relationship between PV and the traditional electricity sector is ongoing.
First, utilities are getting more and more interested in PV as a source of business, and not anymore as a threat. In 2015, IEA-PVPS publishes reports and organizes several workshops and conferences focusing on the business models utilities are and will develop in the PV field. In Europe, in Asia (see here), in developing countries (see here).
Second, the understanding of the integration of PV in the electricity sector has improved and especially the question of the integration into the existing and future grids (see here) but also the question of its integration into the energy mix of the future (see here).
Third, because PV is expanding globally, in rich and less rich countries, in all continents, in all market segments, from the 60W module for rural electrification in Bangladesh to the 600 MW utility-scale plant in the USA.
And finally, the IEA-PVPS family is proud to welcome a new (returning) member this year: Finland. After Thailand in 2014, Finland becomes the 29th member of the IEA-PVPS program.
We will be pleased to meet you in the numerous workshops and conferences organized this year and especially during the Asean Power Week in Bangkok, during the EU-PVSEC in Hamburg and the PVSEC in Busan.
20 May 2015
The closer PV comes to the market, the more relevant it becomes for utilities. Although IEA-PVPS is in touch with several utilities worldwide since many years, there is a clear need to foster and extend these relations: In order to come closer together IEA-PVPS invited European utilities on April 10, to discuss about PV as a possible current and future business for utilities.
12 representatives from EU utilities exchanged with IEA PVPS Experts at the IEA Headquarter in Paris about residential PV applications and the role of self-consumption and the role of PV in comprehensive energy services that utilities will offer in future. the group discussed general aspects on financing as well as other topics, showing the interest raised by PV for many utilities.
The major focus consists in identifying profitable business models for utilities in the PV sector.
A similar workshop for Asian utilities will take place on September 3, 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand along with the Asean Power Week conference.
Since the feedback of the European meeting was very positive and the need for a continuation was mentioned by most attendants, IEA-PVPS intends to proceed with this task force already this autumn; the next 1-day meeting will take place at a date to be defined this fall at the IEA headquarter in Paris.
As a conclusion, the PV sector will have to find a common ground with traditional utilities if it has to develop further. IEA-PVPS intends to position itself as a bridge between the two worlds to envision the future of business models that utilities could develop to enter the PV market.
13 March 2015
While the PV market continues to develop globally, challenges related to its development are becoming more global as well. IEA-PVPS will publish numerous reports in the coming months, starting with reports on PV in developing countries: two news reports have been published in 2015, focusing on business models for PV in developing countries and PV for rural health facilities. These present a different point of view on emerging PV business models than the ones we used to see in developed markets.
In parallel, IEA-PVPS looked at the future of the technology and in particular the life-cycle analysis of future PV modules at the 2030-2050 horizon. This new report highlights how PV can contribute to the energy demand in the future while respecting constraining environmental regulations.
Finally, IEA-PVPS started long ago to focus on large-scale PV systems while this was only a far dream. Now that ground-mounted PV plants have reached more than 500 MW in size (and larger ones are announced ona regular basis), the last edition of "PV in the desert" will be published in March 2015.
More reports are expected in the coming weeks and months, especially the annual PV market estimates of IEA-PVPS that will indicate how much the market finally grew in 2014 and a complete report on self-consumption and net-metering policies.
Through these numerous reports, IEA-PVPS confirms its status of prime PV research institution in the world, gathering some of the most renewed experts in their fields and delivering a wide range of quality, unbiased reports.
16 January 2015
After a slow growth in 2014, the prospect for PV remains strong in 2015 according to most market experts. Whatever the number of PV installations during this year, the questions that remain open are numerous and require increasingly complex researches to which the IEA-PVPS intends to contribute.
In 2014, the IEA-PVPS published new reports on market development, including in developing economies, but also reports on quality and reliability of PV systems. We also contributed to the research on the integration of PV in distribution grids. These subjects will continue to be researched in 2015: new reports are expected with regard to the analysis of long-term PV performance, and the effect of PV in the electricity grids.
Additional reports will be published this year on subjects such as new business models for PV in emerging economies, the evolution of self-consumption measures in key countries, LCA and LCI analysis and more. The publication of the last report on large-scale PV in desert areas is part of this year's work program while on the other side of the spectrum, IEA-PVPS will launch two new activities.
The first one intends to continue researching how BIPV components could finally find a way to the market. A new research program (Task 15) focusing on BIPV will capitalize on former research activities in order to explore the future of BIPV.
The second one intends to create synergies between the PV world and electric utilities. With PV becoming one of the most promising sources of electricity in numerous countries around the world, a task force gathering PV experts and utility representatives will explore the impact on their business models, and the way how utilities could benefit from the PV technology.
Finally IEA-PVPS will continue to communicate the results of its activities through public and expert workshops and conferences, all around the world. With more than 100 experts from all continents and various fields of expertise, IEA-PVPS will continue to be your global network for international cooperation on PV development.
We wish you a Happy and Sunny New Year 2015.
6 November 2014 - New Grid Integration Reports
The massive deployment of grid-connected PV in recent years has brought PV penetration in the electricity grids to levels where the conventional fit-and-forget approach to interconnecting PV reaches its limits. In many cases, constraints and limitations of existing electricity infrastructure already have evolved to one of the key barriers delaying or impeding the realisation of PV projects.
While until recently grid issues associated with increased PV Penetration levels have been an issue in just a few local markets mainly in Europe, it has since then become a truly global issue attracting global interest and attendance. In many cases PV has already become a game-changer in the way utilities, transmission as well as distribution system operators
plan and operate power system infrastructure. Last but not least the grid integration of High Penetration PV has been identified as key prerequisite for the future development of the world-wide solar industry.
It is clear that resolving these global challenges requires the broad collaboration of experts from different stakeholders involved and the access to global information on experiences and best practises. Consequently, the Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme of the International Energy Agency (IEA-PVPS) has put up grid integration of on top of its research agenda, following its strategic mission to enhance the international collaborative
efforts which facilitate the role of photovoltaic solar energy as a cornerstone in the transition to sustainable energy systems.
Coordinated by Task 14 (High Penetration PV in Electricity Grids) a worldwide group of experts has been working together exchanging expertise and developing innovative solutions addressing technical as well as non-technical challenges for the advanced integration of PV. From its beginning Task 14 has focused on working together with utilities, electricity industry, and leading research to develop the technologies and methods to enable the widespread deployment of distributed PV into the electricity system.
Task 14 addresses integration challenges and technologies on two main levels of the power system, local distribution grids and the overall power transmission system.
The two new reports specifically covers aspects related to distribution integration, presenting a worldwide selection of best-practice case studies and the latest findings from the working period from 2010 to 2013 within the IEA Task 14 Subtask 2. They present the main features of the evolution from uni-directional grids to bi-directional grids, under the pressure of PV development.
In the coming years, Task 14 will continue focusing on the most important aspects of PV impacts on distribution and transmission grids, on system stability and, in countries where this makes senses, the impact on the electricity system and markets. These subjects will remain at the cornerstone of PV development, with more markets reaching penetration levels, sometimes locally, that require to at least partially rethink the way how our electricity systems will be managed in the future.
8 October 2014 - Trends in PV Applications
Following the difficult year of 2012 in terms of market growth, industry consolidation, policy uncertainty and ongoing fast cost reduction, 2013 has seen a slower evolution on the cost side but also a growing worldwide market again, although with a different split of dominant markets compared to the past.
The fast rise of PV markets in Asia and America has been confirmed as has the decline of the total market in Europe. Overall, 35 GW of PV were installed in IEA PVPS member countries during 2013 (2012: 25 GW), whereas the global PV market is estimated to be at least 39 GW, translating to more than an average of 100 MW installed on a daily basis throughout the year. The global installed total PV capacity is estimated at roughly 140 GW at the end of 2013. PV system prices have seen a slower decline than in the years before or even small increases, indicating that the speed of future cost reduction may be reduced. On the supply side, the indicators suggest that the consolidation phase in the industry starts to be overcome although competition remains high.
At the same time, at the present comparatively low prices, some price flexibility for different applications can be expected. With PV life cycle costs of electricity reaching socket parity with electricity grids in some countries, self consumption and new business models gain importance while Feed-in Tariffs continue to evolve. Overall, this is an encouraging sign for the growing competitiveness of PV and the increasing occurrence of self-sustained markets. Clearly, policy support is changing over time but is still considered essential for the near term development of PV markets worldwide.
Quantitatively, the number of countries experiencing PV as an essential part of their electricity supply is increasing, with Italy in first place with close to 8% of annual electricity demand coming from PV, followed by Germany (> 6%) and Greece (close to 6%). In terms of peak capacity, these high shares of PV start to affect and pose challenges to the integration in the electricity system. New business models and market designs will emerge in response to this development. All of these developments are clear signs that PV is becoming more mature and a relevant part of the electricity supply system.
Download the report (and former editions) here.
27 August 2014
National Survey Reports
2013 was another record year for PV installations and 2014 looks even more positive with a growing demand in many regions of the World. IEA-PVPS has collected and analyzed information related to PV markets and industry development for more than 20 years and this will continue. The National Survey Reports, prepared by national administrations or local PV experts detail the main evolutions that happened in a country the year before. But the most interesting aspect of PV development in 2013 was the remarkable development of Asian countries and the speed at which the knowledge about PV potential is disseminated in dozens of new countries, triggering development plans.
These developments shows that the old recipe started ten years ago in Europe are used again: feed-in tariffs and tax breaks are still driving a very large part of the PV installations all around the world. Markets driven by net-metering schemes are emerging and, where PV has already reached grid-parity with retail electricity prices, markets partially driven by installations self-consuming a large share of their PV electricity are unlocking new challenges and questions. In order to avoid repeating some mistakes done in the last years in several countries, National Survey Reports allow to better understand the evolution of national policies, with a focus on market development policies, but also industry developments, and R&D policies.
2 June 2014
Quality and Reliability of PV Systems
Quality and reliability of PV systems is at the core of discussions during this year’s Intersolar Europe fair in Munich. While the PV market grew significantly in the last five years, the question of PV systems performance becomes central to continue lowering both the cost of PV electricity and the cost of financing PV installations.
Following four years of PV systems performance and reliability research, the IEA PVPS programme’s Task 13 has begun delivery on a series of five reports summarizing these years of intensive research activities. These reports focus on several aspects of PV performance and reliability and cover the main aspects of quality-oriented activities in the PV sector.
Three new reports focus on PV Performance and the impact of PV module failure, for both crystalline silicon and thin-film technologies. They show that the question of quality and reliability can be managed in a scientific way and that in recent years much progress has been made, in parallel with the growth of the PV markets and industry.
28 April 2014
The 2013 IEA PVPS Annual Report has been published and is now available on this website. It shows the speed at which the PV sector has evolved and how the country involvement in this PV program has progressed.
In 2014, Thailand already joined the PVPS program and more countries are discussing their possible participation: this shows the rapid evolution of mentalities with regard to PV, and reflects what currently happens globally.
In parallel, the energy environment is changing fast and the challenges linked to PV evolution are shaping the PVPS activities in order to best reflect it. For sure, PV is not considered anymore as a marginal source of electricity and while it will produce only slightly more than 1% of the world electricity demand in 2014, its future is at the center of many studies. One example is the April 2014 release of the final draft of the IPCC’s fifth report, Working Group III ‘’ (that can be found here)
In this report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has announced that "" in mitigating harmful emissions from electricity production.
This announcement shows how expectations are high for the PV technology and how important the availability of adequate and objective information will remain.
The Annual Report can be found here.
31 March 2014
After two years of market and industry consolidation, the PV market grew again in the 2013. In total, about 36.9 GW of PV capacity were installed in the IEA PVPS countries and the other major markets during 2013 (2012: 29.4 GW; 2011: 29.2 GW; 2010: 16.7 GW). This raised the total installed capacity in IEA PVPS countries to 123.2 GW with another estimated 10.8 GW of capacity installed in other major countries. These are the main outcomes of the latest IEA PVPS “Snapshot of Global PV” report, published on 31 March.
After several years of rapid growth and a stabilization in 2012, the PV market grew in 2013 to at least 36.9 GW. The Asia Pacific region represented around 59% of the global PV market in 2013, a premiere in more than a decade. While Europe still represented 59% of this global market in 2012, its market share fell to 28%, a consequence of a reduced market in Europe and a growing global PV market. The PV market in the Americas went above 5 GW for the first time. The Middle East and Africa remain regions in development for the PV market. However, the most important growth was observed in China which has progressed quickly and was the very first market in 2013 with 11.3 GW of PV systems connected to the grid. The second largest market in 2013 was Japan with 6.9 GW, ahead of the USA, with 4.75 GW and finally the first European market was Germany at 3.3 GW.
The annual PV contribution to electricity demand has passed the 1% mark in 15 countries, with Italy at the top with at least 7.8 % and the overall European PV contribution amounting to around 3% of Europe’s electricity demand.
27 February 2014
Managing grids with high shares of variable renewables is one of the main challenges of PV (and Wind) development. In a new study published in February 2014, the IEA shows that any country can reach high shares of PV and Wind electricity cost-effectively.
The inherent variability of wind power and solar PV is raising concerns: Can power systems remain reliable and cost-effective while supporting high shares of variable renewable energy (VRE)? The study shows that integrating high shares – i.e., 30 percent of annual electricity production or more – of wind and solar PV in power systems can come at little additional cost. However, costs depend on how flexible the system currently is and what strategy is adopted to develop system flexibility. Exploring the differences between developed and developing countries, the study highlights the necessary steps to integrate high shares of VRE cost-effectively, the impact on incumbent generators and the electricity system in general, especially in developed countries with stable electricity systems. It shows how the transformation challenge in stable systems is twofold: scaling up the new, flexible system while scaling down the inflexible part of the old.