Falling costs and increasing capacity may see PV rival fossil fuels

15. June 2011 | Global PV markets, Markets & Trends | By:  Jonathan Gifford

The IEEE, a body of professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic and computing fields, believe there is a potential for photovoltaic electricity generation to become more economical than traditional fossil fuels, within the next decade.

A picture of an IEEE brochure.

The world's largest body of electrical and electronic experts believe photovoltaic electricity will rival fossil fuels in the next decade. Image: Flickr/ Mad African.

The cost parity of photovoltaics is dependent on improving the efficiency of solar cell technology and the creation of economies of scale to further drive down production costs, argue IEEE solar experts. However, these economies of scale are already drawing nearer according to the International Energy Association; global solar photovoltaic capacity has been increasing at an average growth rate of more than 40 percent since 2000.

The IEEE’s James Prendergast expanded in a statement from the organization, "as the cost of electricity from solar continues to decrease compared to traditional energy sources, we will see tremendous market adoption and I suspect it will be a growth limited only by supply."

Competition between technologies, IEEE members added, is delivering the efficiency gains required however the balance between cost and efficiency will remain key. "There’s a really healthy competition on the technology front right now," said IEEE Senior Member from Ohio State University, "the technologies that will prevail will combine the best of both [economy and efficiency]."

Advancements in technologies and the availability of materials required for photovoltaic production are also assisting in its growth. Silicon is more available than formerly and thin film technology, solar storage and electronic control technologies are all driving down costs.

IEEE Electron Devices Society will launch its Journal of Photovoltaics later this year. The IEEE also intend to expand their Photovoltaic Specialist Conference to include more than 1,000 technical presentations. The conference will take place 19-24 June, in Seattle, Washington State.


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