Solar PV rapidly becoming protagonist in a world in transformation – pv magazine International
The Global Solar Council’s second virtual forum shows a growing, healthy sector that, in addition to its clean energy advantage, can also offer social and economic benefits
July 16, 2021
The global solar industry has faced the extraordinary market conditions of the past 18 months with impressive resilience, even in the face of challenges such as arduous approval procedures, inadequate power grids and still insufficient gender distribution in the value chain. According to a post-COVID survey by the Global Solar Council, expectations for revenue growth in 2021 are rising, aided by underlying demand trends and increased support from governments not only about decarbonization policies, but also about Turn to solar energy to stimulate economic recovery.
These were some of the most important topics and findings from the opening day of the Global Solar Council Virtual Forum: Powering a bright future with Solar PV, which took place in cooperation with SolarPower Europe and with the support of GET.invest. With 38 distinguished and knowledgeable speakers, the event welcomed over 400 attendees, from leading solar companies to industry associations, and from governments to financial institutions from every continent including top solar countries such as Germany, Spain, the United States, India and China and emerging economies as diverse as Argentina, Nigeria, the Philippines, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.
Jose Donoso, Chairman of the Global Solar Council, commented: “A sustainable energy transition requires decarbonization, decentralization, digitization, democratization: photovoltaics has proven that it is a protagonist in all these transformations and the much-needed progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals can accelerate, not to mention the increasing demand for electricity. The Global Solar Council has carefully collected the input from the world-class experts who contributed to the Virtual Forum 2021 and will bring recommendations to COP26 in Glasgow. “
Solar energy is critical to achieving decarbonization and development goals. The 1.5 ° C path of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) requires a profound transformation of the global energy sector and an increase in investments in renewable energies. But the socio-economic benefits of the transition could even be achieved in the short term: By 2030, the 1.5 ° C path would increase global GDP by 2.4% above current projections and more than triple renewable energy jobs to 38 million, with Solar PV accounts for the largest share of this job creation.
Francesco La Camera, General Director of IRENA said: “The importance of the decisions we will make in the years to come is clear, there is no room for error. Energy decisions need to be aligned with economic and human development goals, environmental concerns and financial opportunities. Now is the time to be determined, uncompromising and courageous: The energy transition is an opportunity that we must not miss. “
In order to have a chance to adapt to climate change, the world has to move massively towards electrification. According to Ajay Mathur, General Director of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), this means that beyond the electricity sector, heating, industry and transport are also stimulating enormous demand that must be increasingly flexible. Supported by a comprehensive political framework that
thinks that people, wealth and planet, renewable energy and especially photovoltaics can ensure that all regions have the chance to reap the benefits of transition.
We need to remember – as highlighted by REN21 – that only 1 billion people live in cities with decarbonization plans. And we are still very far from what we need to achieve the SDGs and decarbonise the global economy, as the Climate Action Network International (CAN) has determined. Even where the legislation is in place, as in the European Union, in many cases it is not properly applied because of the urgency of tackling the climate emergency. Despite strong growth and the creation of most renewable energy jobs worldwide (25-30 jobs per installed MW per year), solar energy only accounts for around 3% of all electricity generated on earth.
All of this means that greater political efforts are required to level the playing field in the energy sector and to be in line with the net-zero targets, to facilitate both the acceleration of large and decentralized plants and to modernize the power grids to achieve that exploit the full potential of self-consumption. As emphasized by the International Solar Energy Society (ISES), education is a key opportunity to achieve equity, equality and inclusion in the energy transition, to train the next generation and to disseminate knowledge for greater stakeholder engagement and to create locally responsive systems.
Hans-Josef Fell, President of the Energy Watch Group, told the GSC Virtual Forum: “In view of the strong global temperature increase, it is necessary to strive for an economy based on 100% renewable energy by 2030, if the political transition would be technically and economically feasible There would be a will to do so. Solar energy is the cornerstone of this transition and will provide the lion’s share of the energy in a 100% renewable world. “
When it comes to developing countries, India is an absolute role model as it has gone from 4 to 40 GW photovoltaics in just 8 years and is the only G20 country to reach the Paris Agreement. According to Subrahmanyam Pulipaka, CEO of the National Solar Energy Federation of India, this shows that developing countries can successfully decarbonize. However, until ten years ago, developed countries were responsible for most of the world’s pollution. Despite pledging financial aid to developing countries, they are not delivering and we need to ensure that they are held accountable for their commitments, Pulipaka added.
A meeting moderated by BloombergNEF with major financial institutions – the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank – highlighted the need to secure revenue, ensure creditworthiness, provide adequate technical support and clear guidelines for compensation mechanisms, and ensure that the networks have grown to a wider diffusion of renewable energy sources, to multiply bankable projects and to stimulate private investments in renewable energies, especially in developing countries.
GSC Chairman Donoso commented, “Solar PV faces two new challenges: rising prices due to excessive raw material costs in Asian countries – which may or may not be temporary – and growing hostility towards PV installations in OECD countries.” Cases of local resistance from Not In My BackYard (NIMBY) to installations despite widespread acceptance of the enormous potential of solar energy are just as dangerous as denial of climate science because it limits land availability. “I am convinced that the sector is on the right track to meet these challenges: better communication and greater involvement of local communities are necessary to show that PV systems are an opportunity for biodiversity, and the commitment to prioritize local jobs and benefits, ”concluded Donoso.