Energy Blue Print
Scenario for a future energy supply

Moving from principles to action for energy supply that mitigates against climate change requires a long-term perspective. Energy infrastructure takes time to build up; new energy technologies take time to develop. Policy shifts often also need many years to take effect. In most world regions the transformation from fossil to renewable energies will require additional investment and higher supply costs over about twenty years.

the development of the global solar photovoltaic industry

Inspired by the successful work with the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Greenpeace began working with the European Photovoltaic Industry Association to publish “Solar Generation 10” – a global market projection for solar photovoltaic technology up to 2020 for the first time in 2001. Since then, six editions have been published and EPIA and Greenpeace have continuously improved the calculation methodology with experts from both organisations.

Figure 4.8 shows the actual projections for each year between 2001 and 2010 compared to the real market data, against the first two Energy [R]evolution editions (published in 2007 and 2008) and the IEA’s solar projections published in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2007. The IEA did not make specific projections for solar photovoltaic in the first editions analysed in the research, instead the category “Solar/Tidal/Other” are presented in Figure 4.8 and 4.9.

In contrast to the wind projections, all the SolarGeneration projections have been too conservative. The total installed capacity in 2010 was close to 40,000 MW about 30% higher than projected in SolarGeneration published ten years earlier. Even SolarGeneration 5, published in 2008, under-estimated the possible market growth of photovoltaic in the advanced scenario. In contrast, the IEA WEO 2000 estimations for 2010 were reached in 2004.

The long-term projections for solar photovoltaic are more difficult than for wind because the costs have dropped significantly faster than projected. For some OECD countries, solar has reached grid parity with fossil fuels in 2012 and other solar technologies, such as concentrated solar power plants (CSP), are also headed in that direction. Therefore, future projections for solar photovoltaic do not just depend on cost improvements, but also on available storage technologies. Grid integration can actually be a bottle-neck to solar that is now expected much earlier than estimated.