Five core challenges of the European solar photovoltaics research and innovation


In last month’s contribution, the European Technology and Innovation Platform for Photovoltaics (ETIP PV) introduced all of its activities and working groups. This time, ETIP PV is presenting its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), published in collaboration with the European Energy Research Alliance for PV (EERA-PV).

The SRIA presents five core challenges for the research and innovation sector (in Europe) and additionally outlines comprehensive strategies and clear targets for each of them. The SRIA is a valuable source for anyone interested in PV research and innovation at scale, and especially for research institutes and a forward-looking PV industry that seeks to capitalize on R&D.

Challenge 1: Performance Enhancement and Cost Reduction through Advanced PV Technologies and Manufacturing

For the first challenge, the SRIA elaborates that the levelized cost of electricity (LCoE) can be lowered even further via three possible objectives: higher efficiency of the PV modules, appropriate system design, and digitalization of PV. The first objective in particular requires a strong focus on research and innovation – especially in Europe – where R&I remains the backbone of the European efforts to create a competitive PV supply chain. In addition to establishing a strong industrial base of today’s best available technologies, doing R&I at scale must be implemented hand-in-hand with more basic as well as industry-oriented programs, to prevent the risk of investing only in technologies that will one day be obsolete, especially now that innovation cycles have significantly accelerated in the past decade.

Challenge 2: Lifetime, Reliability, and Sustainability Enhancements

Although PV already has a comparatively small environmental impact per unit of electrical energy generated, the huge role that PV needs to play in the energy transition implies that enormous amounts of energy and materials must be consumed for its manufacturing. Therefore, through five different roadmaps (Reduce, Repair, Recycle, Sustainable Manufacturing, and Eco-Labeling), the second challenge in the SRIA discusses how to lower, among other factors, the carbon footprint of PV manufacturing and reach a nearly 100% recyclable and circular PV technology.

Challenge 3: New Applications through the integration of Photovoltaics

The third challenge is dedicated to PV integrated in buildings, vehicles, agriculture, (manmade) water surfaces and the built environment (infrastructures), especially since many of the integrated PV solutions are so far mostly based in Europe, creating a valuable export opportunity for the European energy sector.

Challenge 4: The Smart Energy System Integration of Photovoltaics for Large-Scale Deployment and High Penetration

The main objective of the fourth challenge is to elaborate how through various R&I roadmaps – such as more intelligent distribution, dependable and openly available forecasting tools, improved efficiencies by integrating PV systems in DC networks, and hybrid systems – the reliability of the energy system based on a very high penetration of PV can be improved.

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Challenge 5: Socio-Economic Aspects of the Transition to High PV Contribution

The fifth challenge discusses how via co-working with regulatory and administrative stakeholders for innovative regulatory and administrative approaches, exploration of the role of PV in promoting behavioral changes, or educating and engaging with citizens on all levels, one can better understand the main drivers behind the public opinion about PV. Thus, one can raise awareness about the economic and sustainability benefits of PV and finally, create a paradigm shift in public support, and move from declarative to on-spot actual support.

ETIP PV is continuously updating and expanding the SRIA, e.g. by its newly published “White paper on PV Manufacturing in Europe”. The updated version of the SRIA is expected to be published in 2024. Finally, ETIP PV working groups will present their recent findings at the upcoming EU-PVSEC conference in Lisbon and organize interactive parallel sessions on e.g. digital grid PV, LCoE, as well as reliability and circularity.

If you want to stay tuned for more information on our events and activities, then follow us via our monthly Newsletter, our monthly articles at pv magazine, or our LinkedIn channel. Furthermore, if you are interested in working with us, then consider applying to join one of our working groups – we are always actively looking for experts and PV enthusiasts to join our working groups.


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