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Solar (Renewable) Energy

Solar Energy Program1

Global primary energy demand is predicted to grow by 44% from 472 quads in 2006 to 678 quads in 20302. Over that period of time the world will need to invest, annually, 1% of global GDP to maintain and expand energy supply in order to meet these energy projections. Interestingly and perhaps, ironically, a recent IMF report finds that this is the same amount that the world spends annually on consumer subsidies (mainly in developing economies) to maintain an artificially low oil price3. As it happens it is also roughly equivalent to the amount which the OECD forecasts will be raised this year in government bonds by its 30 mostly industrialized, member countries ($16 trillion). Power generation, transmission and distribution will absorb almost 60% of the investment required to maintain and expand energy supply4.

Photovoltaic cells provide a number of clear advantages and are a useful component of a diversified energy portfolio which can be used to materially improve the global energy portfolio. Historically the majority of commercial PV cells have been based on crystalline silicon. However in recent years significant investment dollars and technological advances in new materials such as inorganic thin films (e.g. CuInGaSe), dye-sensitized cells and, most recently, organic or carbon based thin film solar cells, has resulted in reduced dominance of the solar sector by crystalline silicon technologies. There is now a clear growth in the thin film technology development and we are seeing the emergence in other technologies including CIGS although the commercial mass electricity generation impact of this technology has yet to be felt in a significant way.

  1. Extracts taken from: ‘New Micorscale Vertically Oriented OPV Cells’, Seamus A. Curran, James Glennie, James Dewald, Sampath Dias, Soniya D. Yambem, Nigel J. Alley, Amrita Haldar and Kang-Shyang Liao, Presented at PVSC 35, (2010)
  2. ‘World Energy Demand and Economic Outlook 2009’, International Energy Agency, (2009)
  3. Comments of IEA Executive Director in introducing the IEA’s 2003 World Energy Investment Outlook. 4-Nov-2003. Oil and Money Conference in London, (2003)
  4. Comments of IEA Executive Director in introducing the IEA’s 2003 World Energy Investment Outlook. 4-Nov-2003. Oil and Money Conference in London, (2003)