In a follow-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December 2015 scientists from around the world recently convened for the first meeting of the Global Alliance of Solar Energy Research Institutes (GA-SERI). The meeting of 50 leading international experts discussed GA-SERI discussed reaching 3 terawatts of solar power by 2030 and 20 terawatts by 2040.
Among the participants were the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "PV is on a pathway to low cost," said Greg Wilson, director of NREL's Materials Applications and Performance Center and co-director of the National Center for Photovoltaics, who attended the workshop. "When you add PV to inexpensive storage or another means of introducing flexibility into the grid, PV can be attractive as a primary energy source."
NREL was there along with its other counterparts from other solar energy research institutes in Germany, Japan and other countries. It’s German counterpart is the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy and in Japan it’s the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
They discussed the future of photovoltaics (PV) and assessed its contributions to increasing global prosperity, energy security and mitigation of climate change. The researchers and scientists what challenges must be overcome to transform the energy system to allow solar power to supply such a major portion of the world's energy in just a few decades.
Solar installations are increasing rapidly across the world. In 2004 the whole world had just 3.7 gigawatts of solar installed. In 2015, the world installed 60 gigawatts of solar power. Previous reports have already anticipated that it will become a significant amount of the world’s energy supply by 2050.
One of the biggest challenges will be upping the amount of solar panels that are manufactured on an annual basis. “Workshop participants expressed confidence that a substantial expansion of manufacturing capacity will be spurred on by demand for PV catching up to supply,” the alliance said in a joint release. “This renaissance of growth will carry PV to a new level of energy impact—to the terawatt scale.”
The alliance cited drastically reduced PV costs as one of the reasons for the anticipated growth of solar power. However, it cautioned that current research and development (R&D) and investment paths must continue. The electric grid will play a key role as it becomes more flexible as will the availability of low-cost energy storage and demand-side management.Tweet