The pv magazine weekly news roundup: Sept 19-26

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Every Friday, pv magazine will round up the biggest and best stories from the past week and package them here in one easily digestible news nugget. So kick back, fire up the coffee machine and get up to speed with the latest comings and goings in the global PV industry.

What we learned this week

Solar’s flair for an eye-catching headline shone more brightly than ever this week as the world learned that the International Energy Association (IEA) is forecasting solar power to become the world’s majority energy source by 2050.

The announcement, made on the closing day of the 29th EU PVSEC exhibition in Amsterdam, suggests that PV alone will power 16% of the globe by that date, with CSP and thermal playing their part in solar’s eclipse of its power rivals.

"Based on its competitive advantage in distributed applications, PV is unbeatable by any generation technology, distributed or not," said IEA’s Paolo Frankl. Unsurprisingly, the IEA anticipate that China will continue lead the way in PV, accounting for 37% of all installed capacity by 2050.

To achieve this lofty goal, the IEA warned that a number of challenges must be met, not least driving down the cost of solar technology while increasing efficiencies. Luckily, the researchers at German institute ZSW have been working hard on that last point and this week published a report that reveals they have achieved 21.7% CIGS efficiency – wresting the world record back from Sweden’s Midsummer.

"The 21.7% was reached on a lot of cells, so we already demonstrated the robustness of the process," said ZSW head Michael Powalla. "However, if we go to large area production, there are losses due to interconnection of cells and statics. The new process seems to be very tolerant and could be scaled up." Powalla hopes to see large-scale production of CIGS technology in the range of 17-19% efficiency very soon.

Hitting targets

Equally ambitious targets were unveiled by U.S. solar leasing and installation specialist Vivint Solar, revealing an IPO funding goal of $371 million. Reuters reported that the firm is seeking to price its shares between $16 and $18 in an effort to eat into SolarCity’s 29% share of the U.S. solar leasing market.

Also looking to claim a larger stake in the growing U.S. clean energy sector is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), which announced this week that is has joined a coalition of philanthropists that have pledged to shed $50 billion worth of fossil fuel assets.

"John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum," said RBF president Stephen Heintz. "We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy."

A clean, green future is all that the hundreds of thousands who joined last weekend’s Climate March are asking for, yet their appeals largely fell on deaf ears as the 120 leaders gathered at the UN Climate Summit 2014 failed to properly grasp the climate nettle.

Despite some encouraging pledges from many of the world’s most prominent leaders, the heads of the U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S. failed to agree to any further binding commitments. There was better news a notch down, though, as more than 1,000 leading CEOs and business figureheads pledged their support to tackling climate change. Baby steps, but steps in the right direction.

Also this week

The CEO of one of the world’s most recognizable brands, IKEA, appears to have all his eco screws tightly in place. Peter Agnefjäll not only attended the Climate March and the Climate Summit, but has also pledged to up IKEA’s efforts to install more solar panels atop its stores. Already the company has installed in excess of 700,000 solar panels, and will also roll out solar panels sales to eight new countries having enjoyed a successful trial run in the U.K.

Energy storage stories backed-up the positivity of this week, with Southern California Edison (SCE) unveiling its 32 MW battery project in the U.S. while renowned PV expert Winfried Hoffmann spoke candidly to pv magazine about a storage learning curve that he says could see energy storage costs fall to just US$0.05 per kilowatt hour by 2030.

Back on more traditional, "look at all this solar" territory, PV pin-ups SolarCity finally broke ground on their GigaFactory in New York State; Japan remained on course to install more than 8 GW of solar PV this year, and the Middle East and Africa appeared to have finally trampled a path through the PV wilderness – NPD Solarbuzz have calculated a 12 GW PV pipeline for MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.

Sept 19-26: That was the week that was. Be sure to follow @pv-magazine on Twitter for continued updates and breaking news, and check back next Friday for the next pv magazine weekly news roundup.

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