Photovoltaics cost projections

Some governments have intervened to enable PVs to achieve economies of scale, notably Germany, the USA and Japan. A combination of subsidies, market growth and technical gains promises to deliver sharp reductions in cost. A tripling of annual production would bring PV prices down to the level of conventional power. It is likely that the domestic market will provide the impetus for this expansion. The key to success will be the production of roof and wall systems that compete with conventional materials.2

Projections of PV market penetration

A joint research project by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and Greenpeace has produced an estimate of the development of PVs to 2020 and 2040.3 The EPIA represents 52 of Europe's leading PV companies.

The report estimates that the output of PV will rise from the 280 MWp in 2000 to over 40,000 MWp in 2020, producing about 274 TWh worldwide. This would account for 30% of Africa's needs. This assumes that:

• the market development over recent years is maintained

• there are national and regional support programmes

• there are national targets for PV installations and manufacturing capacity

• suitable sites are available including roofs

• there is a growth in demand from areas not grid-connected.

The International Energy Agency predicts that world electricity demand by 2020 will be 26,000 TWh with an installed capacity of 195 GWp. About half the world would be grid-connected, mostly in the industrialized countries. Assuming 80% of demand will be from homes with an average demand of 3 kW serving 3 people, by 2020 the total generating their own electricity would be 82 million with 35 million in Europe being grid-connected.

In developing countries the capacity by 2020 is expected to be 30 GWp, of which 10 GW will be used for homes with an average demand of 50 Wp. This would amount to one million using PV.

The overall effect would be to reduce CO2 emissions by 164 million tonnes at the same time creating an employment potential of 2 million jobs. By 2040, assuming:

• the lifetime of PVs of 20 years

• power consumption increasing from 26,000 TWh in 2020 to 35,000 TWh then solar PV will account for 7368 TWh or 23% of world electricity output.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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