First Float Column
An history of past editorials from the homepage of the IEA-PVPS website.
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.