50 Terawatts of Solar Photovoltaics (“PV”) is now feasible by 2050

This is from an article in Science by Haegel, et al which just was released today. It means, documented in detail, that the projections of Professor Tony Seba are not only right on, but Professor Seba may have underestimated the impact.

To put this in perspective, in 2013, for all purposes from all sources, the entire world consumed 18 Terawatt-hours of energy. Accordingly, were the 50 Terawatt PV run for an hour, that would be nearly three times the need of all energy for 2013 for the world. Naturally, there are questions of storage, converting electrical energy to usable forms, etc. But, on the other hand, if there is 50 Terawatt-hours of energy available, no matter what the form, there is also significant economic incentive to learn how to do these things.

The actual paper from Science is:

N.M. Haegel, H. Atwater, T. Barnes, C. Breyer, A. Burrell, Y.-M. Chiang, S. De Wolf, B. Dimmler, D. Feldman, S. Glunz, et al. “Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Transform global energy”, 2019, Science 364, 836–838.

Note this is a much more optimistic update of:

N. M. Haegel, R. Margolis, T. Buonassisi, D. Feldman, A. Froitzheim, R. Garabedian, et al., “Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges”, 2017, Science, 356, 141–143.

from barely two years before. The authors say this themselves in the Abstract of the 2019 paper:

Solar energy has the potential to play a central role in the future global energy system because of the scale of the solar resource, its predictability, and its ubiquitous nature. Global installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity exceeded 500 GW at the end of 2018, and an estimated additional 500 GW of PV capacity is projected to be installed by 2022–2023, bringing us into the era of TW-scale PV. Given the speed of change in the PV industry, both in terms of continued dramatic cost decreases and manufacturing-scale increases, the growth toward TW-scale PV has caught many observers, including many of us (1), by surprise. Two years ago, we focused on the challenges of achieving 3 to 10 TW of PV by 2030. Here, we envision a future with ∼10 TW of PV by 2030 and 30 to 70 TW by 2050, providing a majority of global energy. PV would be not just a key contributor to electricity generation but also a central contributor to all segments of the global energy system. We discuss ramifications and challenges for complementary technologies (e.g., energy storage, power to gas/liquid fuels/chemicals, grid integration, and multiple sector electrification) and summarize what is needed in research in PV performance, reliability, manufacturing, and recycling.

(Emphasis added.)

To skeptics who thought these would be limited by available materials, essentially taking a narrow-minded view of how to do PV, there appear to be many alternatives, some better than the originals.

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This entry was posted in American Solar Energy Society, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, disruption, distributed generation, investment in wind and solar energy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, Sonnen community, the energy of the people, the green century, Tony Seba. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 50 Terawatts of Solar Photovoltaics (“PV”) is now feasible by 2050

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