Photovoltaic Fact Sheets
Most common questions about PV are being answered through these 10 Fact Sheets developed by WG1.
The Status and Future of the Photovoltaic Market
The photovoltaic (PV) market remains one of the most dynamic sectors globally. An overall annual growth rate of 45 % was experienced over recent years. Even with the temporary shortage of silicon in 2006, more systems were installed than in the previous years.
Some people state that “The energy balance is negative: Manufacturing a PV system consumes more energy than it ever produces in its life time.”
The fact is: Photovoltaic (PV) systems, like every other product, do need energy for manufacturing. But PV systems pay back this energy input within 1 to 3 years, depending on cell type and location. During its expected lifetime of 30 years, the PV system produces therefore 10 to 30 times the energy it originally consumed.
Some people state that “The costs of PV will never reach competitiveness.”
The fact is: Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is a technology driven Industry. Proven over more than two decades, the price-experience curve allowed for continuously falling costs and will do so in future. On the other hand, and for various reasons, conventional energy costs are constantly rising. More and more often, photovoltaic solar energy will therefore be able to compete for various applications.
Some people state that “The external costs of PV electricity are much higher than for other renewable sources.”
The fact is: PV systems, during their life-cycle, release some emissions to the environment as fossil fuels are still used in the process of manufacturing. The health and environmental impacts of such emissions may be expressed in monetary terms as “external costs”. For current PV installations in South-Europe the external costs are about 0.15 eurocents per kWh, which are comparable to wind energy, and much lower than the external costs of the fossil fuel technologies that PV displaces.
You may have heard the statement “Solar PV is not appropriate for rural applications as only rich countries can afford it.”
The fact is: As photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity started 30 years ago, off-grid applications were cost competitive fi rst in remote rural areas. Off-grid solar PV systems for professional and domestic use were the fi rst terrestrial applications.
Some people argue that “PV should remain in the research laboratory and work for a breakthrough in technology.”
The fact is: Photovoltaic (PV) technology steadily progresses thanks to both research efforts in the laboratory and experience from the market place. The past 30 years of research in photovoltaics have demonstrated that there is no sudden overall technological breakthrough. Like in most areas, technology development is a continuous process over time.
You may have heard the statement “Solar photovoltaics has no economic impact.”
The fact is: In 2008 more than 190.000 jobs were created within the PV industry and the industry turnover reached around 25 billion Euros. Many more new jobs in this high-tech industry with excellent future are being created by the PV Industry right now.
Some people state that “Decentralised PV systems are not sufficient for commercial requirements.”
The fact is: Photovoltaic (PV) systems are often the most suitable solution for stand-alone applications. Moreover, solar energy can increasingly provide viable solutions for industrial energy service applications where power is required at remote locations. For larger electrical loads, PV can be combined with other renewable energy technologies or a smalldiesel generator to form a PV hybrid system.