PV industry needs government support to stay competitive

During a presentation at this year’s Intersolar Europe exhibition, Winfried Hoffmann, president of European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and vice president and chief technology officer of Energy and Environmental Solutions, Applied Materials GmBH & Co. told listeners that over the next five to six years, the industry needs the support of governments in order to remain competitive.

He went on to say that the PV industry is on an upward spiral and is very close to achieving grid parity.

He said that complacency is, therefore, not an option. The path towards beating traditional energy resource costs, he explained, has already been paved. However, he stressed that without the industry focusing on working innovatively with automation industries to create higher volumes and without government policies like feed-in-tariffs to support demand, this upward spiral could potentially tumble.

Furthermore, Hoffmann said that the PV industry is heading towards a future that will see power generation costs fall to between 10 and 20 Euro cents per kilowatt (kW) per hour.

He justifies these numbers by stating that the PV industry has demonstrated annual growth rates of 45 percent over the last ten years. EPIA calculated that in order for the EU to achieve 12 percent of total energy, which must be replaced by renewables in Europe – in particular solar energy – 390 GW of photovoltaics needs to be installed by 2020.

Last year, there was a total installation of 10GW. When putting the numbers 10 and 390 together, he said, seems rather daunting. The EPIA figures predict that 34 percent aggregated growth is therefore necessary. This, he continues, is where it gets interesting. As he highlighted before, the industry grew by 45 percent in the last 10 years. In light of this, 34 percent is no longer such a daunting number for the next ten years.