The Climate Group talks about how solar power will bring a step change in global energy supply in the next decade.
From a small industry primarily centred in Germany, the solar PV sector has managed to become a global $100-billion industry with installed capacity exceeding 65 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, up from 5.4 GW in 2005 – a 1200% increase in six years.
With current growth rates solar energy could be providing 10% of global power generation by the end of the decade.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the levelized cost of electricity (the cost distributed over a project’s lifetime – LCOE) for conventional silicon PV declined from an average of $0.32/kWh in early 2009 to $0.17/kWh in early 2012, while thin-film PV dropped from $0.23/kWh to $0.16/kWh over the same period. As for the first quarter of 2012, BNEF pegs the levelized cost range at $0.11/kWh to $0.25/kWh.
In the United States, solar PV technology is expected to reach grid parity for some projects in 2014, while China could achieve it in most of its regions by 2015-16.