EuPD Research: IEA’s PV forecast "too low"

18. November 2011 | Markets & Trends, Global PV markets | By:  Jonathan Gifford

The latest report on the world's electricity future from the International Energy Agency (IEA), delivered late last week, forecasts a conservative outlook for the development of photovoltaics until 2035. EuPD Research says that such an outlook underestimates the competitiveness of photovoltaics specifically, and renewables in general.

A podium and stage photo, with Powerpoint slide in the background.

IEA's conservative forecasts underestimates photovoltaics potential for competitiveness. Image: OECD Berlin.

While photovoltaics did not feature prominently in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, often being lumped into the category "Non-Hydro Renewables" in its statistical analysis, its predictions forecast photovoltaics making up slightly less that ten percent of the newly installed electrical capacity by 2035.

The forecasts are made under the report’s New Policies scenario, which assumes that all announced energy policies will be put in place, in full, in the specified timeframe.

The IEA report also forecasts that photovoltaics will generate 4.5 percent of the world’s total electricity supply by 2035. This amounts to 740 terawatt-hours (TWh), an increase from 20 TWh in 2009, signaling growth of 15 percent per year. Total renewable generation will account for 44 percent of the electricity generated from sources installed post-2009.

IEA figures also reveal that while 92 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity will be retired between the 2009 to 2035 report timeframe, 553 GW will be installed, resulting in a net increase of 461 GW.

"This is a low number," Consultant Veit Robert Otto from EuPD Research told pv magazine. "It seems to me as if the IEA put an emphasis on other renewables, I saw one slide which indicates renewable capacities of around 3000 GW in 2035. If we have this 553 GW in photovoltaics, then the share is only 18 percent."

In contrast Otto says that photovoltaics are on a track to take a far greater share of the electricity market. "I think we are on a good track. We see on these initiatives like Desertec, they have transferred the technology from CSP to photovoltaics and this is another indicator of the competitiveness of photovoltaics."

"Costs are going down and the IEA must be underestimating the competitiveness of renewables on a whole."

Otto added that he thinks statements in the IEA report, that renewables will require subsidies until 2030, are too conservative. "We will have incentive parity next year for photovoltaics in Germany, this is the first milestone," he said.


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