Report: PV poised to become mainstream source of energy in Sunbelt countries

The report, “Unlocking the Sunbelt potential of photovoltaics, issued by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), looked at 66 out of the 148 countries which compose the Sunbelt. It found that despite “exceptional” solar irradiation, they currently represent just nine percent of global installed PV capacity. This, says EPIA, “clearly shows that the high solar potential of Sunbelt countries remains largely untapped”.

Examining such criteria as investment attractiveness and the competitive potential of PV, the report identified three “typical deployment scenarios”: paradigm shift; accelerated growth scenario; and base scenario.

In doing this, it found that the PV potential of the Sunbelt countries could range, depending on the scenario, from 60 to 250 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, and from 260 to 1,100 GW in 2030, representing 27 – 58 percent of the forecasted global installed PV capacity by then.

EPIA added that with system prices expected to decrease by up to 66 percent in 2030, PV electricity, already competitive today with some peak generation technologies in a number of countries, would see its generation costs dropping fast.

According to the association, apart from China, all the top 10 major PV markets in the world are currently located outside the Sunbelt region. However, it says that Sunbelt countries currently represent around 75 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the global electricity demand. Furthermore, it says that approximately 80 percent of the forecasted growth of the world electricity demand in the coming 20 years will originate from fast developing economies in that region.

“This study is of considerable importance as it highlights, with demonstrated facts and figures, the immense potential of PV in Sunbelt countries,” stated EPIA’s secretary general, Adel El Gammal. “PV, with its unique fundamentals, increasingly constitutes a democratic, clean and competitive alternative to conventional fuels and will certainly become a mainstream electricity source capable of meeting the soaring electricity demand of growing economies in the Sunbelt region and elsewhere in the World.”

Winfried Hoffmann, vice president of EPIA added: “Based on further technology development it is safe to conclude that modules and inverters will follow the respective well-known Price Experience Curve, which will result in a PV generation cost of six to 12 €cts/kWh by 2020 and as low as four to eight €cts/kWh by 2030.

“Already in 2020, PV will be competitive to the generation cost of clean coal power stations while in 2030 all conventional power generation technologies will be more expensive compared to PV.”