Global investment in solar technology to double by 2015, according to EPIA report

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Global investment in solar technology could double by 2015, according to a new study published by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and Greenpeace International. The report, titled Solar Generation 6, also suggested that PV could account for 12% of Europe’s power requirements by 2020, and up to 9% of the world’s by 2030.

“Our goal is to make solar photovoltaic a mainstream power source through policy support at an optimal cost for consumers,” said Sven Teske, senior energy expert at Greenpeace. “Solar photovoltaic is a key technology for combating climate change; our research shows that it creates 35 to 50 jobs per tonne of CO2 savings and will increase the security of energy supplies by reducing dependency on energy imports to Europe.”

Current investment in the industry totals €35 billion-40 billion, and if EPIA and Greenpeace’s research proves accurate and this figure increases to €70 billion over the next four years, then it will go a long way to helping establish solar as a viable alternative to traditional energy sources. Since 2005, PV prices have dropped by around 40% and by 2015 costs are expected to fall a further 40%. Consequently, over the coming years PV systems will become an increasingly viable alternative to mains electricity in many countries across the European Union.

“Solar photovoltaic technology has, for many years now, shown increased power efficiencies and cost reductions,” said EPIA’s president, Ingmar Wilhelm. “Today’s cost predictions, driven by economies of scale in light of global photovoltaic capacity, totalling 40,000MW in 2010, show that the technology is on the brink of an economic breakthrough. We aim to make this important phase of cost competitiveness visible, and the EPIA will provide a realistic roadmap for every country with clear concepts on market mechanisms allowing equal treatment of all electricity sources.”

The report also predicts that current global solar capacity could grow from its current level of 36GW to nearly to 180GW by 2015, with European capacity experiencing a near-fourfold increase from 28GW to 100GW. A knock-on effect of these increases will be a rise in the number of solar jobs; the European PV industry currently employs 300,000 people, a number which could double by 2015 and hit 1.6 million in 2020, if general policy support remains effective.

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