Paris Takeaways: The Success of Solar Power is about Collaboration – in Policy and R&D
In Paris, the world’s policy leaders have given us a mandate that goes way beyond what most experts had anticipated – to limit global warming well below 2°C and to strive eventually to 1.5° C. These targets are ambitious, even more when taking into account that national emission reduction targets are not legally binding. But as we all know, there are cost-effective technical solutions available today that will enable us to accomplish the Paris goals – and solar power will be a major part in that effort.
The new solar momentum is quickly taking shape: At the start of COP21, India’s Prime Minister Modi clearly emphasized that solar power is key in his strategy fighting climate change, when he announced the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a group of over 120 countries that aim to collaborate “for increased deployment of solar energy.” The Terrawatt Initiative, a private sector group of energy companies, corporations and financial institutions, headed by French utility Engie, was also started during COP21 to help establish “the proper regulatory conditions for a massive deployment of competitive solar generation.” And just in the aftermath of Paris, the US Congress has agreed to extend the country’s solar investment tax credit.
Solar is on the right path: Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows even in its recent modest central power generation scenario, that already as of 2022 solar will add every year more new production capacity than any other power source.But solar needs to grow faster to keep global warming at 1.5°C. And to make this disruptive change to the energy system as smoothly and sustainable as possible, we need to develop and apply the best technologies.
R&D collaboration is key for solar’s success – Welcome to EU PVSEC 2016: PV researchers have done a tremendous job in developing the technology to a level it is competitive with many other power generation sources today. Thanks to their hard work, solar’s cost will not only continue to decrease, the R&D community’s innovations have been making it possible, that the flexible nature of solar can be utilized for completely different applications – from big centralized utility-scale power plants to distributed rooftop systems, from hybrid back-up diesel installations to small solar home systems and consumer applications. And with solar now increasingly becoming a big player in the energies game, the fields of applicable innovations will further grow.
To handle all these challenges, we need to collaborate – that’s what politicians did in Paris and that’s what the solar R&D community at universities, in institutes and companies is doing.