Photovoltaic is the cheapest form of electricity generation in large parts of the world, study

At HZB, science teams explore solar cells of the next generation. The picture shows the Helmholtz Innovation lab HySPRINT at HZB.

Cost reductions and the rapid expansion of production capacities make photovoltaics one of the most attractive technologies for a global energy turnaround, according to an article published by photovoltaic researchers from the Global Alliance for Solar Energy Research Institutes (GA-SERI) in the journal »Science«. Not only the electricity sector, but also transport, heating, industry and chemical processes »will in future be supplied primarily by solar power, because it is already the cheapest form of electricity generation in large parts of the world.«
Rutger Schlatmann, expert for photovoltaics and director of PVcomB as well as division spokesman for renewable energy at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB), also contributed to this expertise. He emphasizes not only »the great potential of photovoltaics for climate protection, but also the enormous opportunities for the economy associated with it.« PV capacity is increasing faster than expected, says the HZB. By 2018, 500 GW of PV capacity had been installed worldwide. In 2030, experts expect 10 TW and by 2050 around 30 to 70 TW of installed PV capacity worldwide. The learning curve for photovoltaics shows from 1976 to 2018 that »costs are reduced by 23 percent per doubling of installed capacity.« Experts believe it is likely that this cost reduction will continue.
With silicon PV, which covers 95 percent of the world market, the trend is towards low-cost solar cells with passivated contacts that enable higher efficiencies. Technological advances in the field of thin-film technologies have raised efficiency levels above the 20 percent mark, while the figure for multiple solar cells based on silicon is already over 35 percent, says the article.
The Global Alliance for Solar Energy Research Institutes consists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (Germany), the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology AIST (Japan) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL (USA). Since 2016, this international group of experts, expanded by researchers from other groups and countries, has regularly discussed the challenges for the use of photovoltaics to achieve global climate goals.
© PHOTON

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