Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Fraunhofer Institute on future of PV

Transformation into a green energy future requires focus on rapid development of all RE sources esp., wind, solar PV, solar thermal, hydro and bio mass, said Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Fraunhofer-Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany. He was delivering the keynote at the recently held Solarcon India 2009 show.

Today, less than 0.1 pecent of solar energy is being used to produce electricity. Looking at 2050 and 2100, there will be widespread use of solar energy.

Drawing on the challenges of today‘s situation, he said that the the world had experienced the largest financial and economic crisis in the last 80 years. Limited availability of fossil fuels and the dangers of catastrophic climate change will remain our key challenges.

The crisis may actually accelerate the global transition into a green energy future, which requires increased energy efficiency in buildings, transport (e-mobility) and production, rapid development of all renewable energies as well as expansion of the electricity grid for long-distance transport and smart users.

Touching on the magnitude of solar energy, Prof. Weber said that each hour the sun delivers to earth the amount of energy used by humans in a whole year. Sun radiation onto earth corresponds to 120,000 TW. However, the total human energy need in 2020 is 20 TW. PV can easily supply substantial part of world’s energy needs.

The annual global installation of PV modules was 600 MWp in 2003 and was above 5 GWp in 2008 — far above the most optimistic prediction. The forecast for 2010 is greater than 12 GWp.

The PV market today is still dominated by crystalline solar technology with about 85 percent market share – thin film technology has 15 percent.

Prof Weber also spoke about the technologies in the global PV industry including the higher efficiencies possible from multiple junction cells.

He highlighted the importance of attractive feed-in tariffs to develop a great PV market as has been the case in Germany. To bring down costs of PV, we need to install GW and TW of solar energy, he added.

Giving the example of the path to grid parity in Germany, Prof. Weber noted that the electricity pricing from solar PV will be less than the pricing from conventional sources of electricity in Germany by 2014.

Prof Weber concluded:
* Our climate goals can only be achieved with rapid introduction of renewable energies worldwide; among those, harvesting solar electricity will be a leading technology, as solar energy is virtually unlimited available.

* Direct PV energy conversion is based on semiconductor technology; the price will follow a steep learning curve, so that solar energy will get competitive with electricity from fossil and nuclear sources.

* Electricity from solar thermal energy conversion (CSP) claims cost advantages today, and has advantages in heat storage; however, the learning curve seems to have a smaller slope, so that PV might create lowest-cost solar electricity.

* Crystalline Si will most probably remain the dominant PV technology for quite some time, thin film PV like a-Si, CI(G)S and CdTe can capture a large market share if efficiencies reach the 15 percent-range.

* Concentrating photovoltaics, CPV, with high-efficiency III-V multi-junction cells and gentle land use, have a good opportunity in high-sunshine regions.

* Ultimately, the solar energy market will develop into a 100s of bn-$ market, providing millions of jobs and energy without fuel costs worldwide.

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