Thursday, May 26, 2011

PV will be as cheap as grid electricity by 2015 in southern UK

The growing maturity of the renewables industry is indicated in a taster for an imminent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which looks at the growing deployment of different technologies and urges the continuation of stable policies to support changes in the energy system.

Speaking about the report, one of its authors, Sven Teske, predicts that parity for photovoltaics will occur by 2017. That is the point at which solar electricity is the same price as conventional electricity.

Prices have been coming down very fast recently, as the following table shows:

Module pricing per peak wattunitJune 2010May 2011% reduction in 11 months
Europe €/watt4.132.6965%
US $/watt4.233.0773%
Lowest mono-crystalline module price$/Wp2.231.881%
Lowest multi-crystalline module price $/Wp1.741.84106%
Lowest thin-film module price$/Wp1.761.3778%


Some countries - Spain, Italy, France and Germany - will reach grid parity by 2015. As for Britain, he predicts that this will occur in the southern part of the UK too, because it receives as much sunshine as the north of Germany.

But it won't happen in Scotland or Bulgaria, for example; in the first case there is not enough sunshine, and in the second case the price and the consumer reach is too low.

But Teske warns “if the PV industry wants to achieve a larger market penetration they need to be involved in storage, peak demand delivery and development of the smart grid".

Teske cautions that the renewable industry must watch out for very aggressive lobbying from nuclear power, gas and shale gas. He says, "in Spain, the gas lobby went straight for the renewables industry," and this may be partly why the feed in tariff for solar in that country was suddenly withdrawn with disastrous consequences.

Above all, a secure and lasting policy landscape is what is required.

Teske also says that the situation regarding concentrated solar power is fascinating. "If you added up all the announcements of concentrated solar power projects in Egypt, they would have 120% renewables already. What really counts are connected systems – not announcements – and there have been relatively few of those yet."

The Desertec project remains highly optimistic that it can find investors despite the political uncertainty in north Africa.

Turkey is another country that is, perhaps surprisingly, forging ahead with renewable energy with a new 100MW solar plant and with the intention of powering Antalya completely by solar power, and very good wind resources.

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