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Climate Action 2009-2010


TECHNOLOGY SOLAR ENERGY 88 © 2001–2006 European Communities and Ecole des Mines de Paris Figure 1. Solar radiation map of the Mediterranean and North Africa. support, by just capitalising on the high solar irradiation of these regions and their relatively expensive and inefficient conditions for conventional electricity generation. Distributed generation for both town and country PV can be used both in centralised power plants but also as a distributed energy source, generating electricity close to the point of consumption. Worldwide electricity is not available to more than 1.6 billion people, of which 80 per cent live in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, only nine per cent of the rural population have access to electricity. PV represents a unique opportunity to electrify rural and remote areas in developing countries, removing this barrier to social and economic development. At the other end of the spectrum, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population is now urban, and cities make an important contribution to national greenhouse gas emissions. PV is one of the only renewable energy technologies that can seamlessly integrate with highly dense urban environments. At a time where many cities are developing strategies to reduce their emissions, PV is poised to become a standard building technology, ensuring that during the next decade, future buildings can be transformed into positive power plants. A responsible investment PV is a key tool in the fight against climate change, with the potential to save billions of tonnes of CO 2 . But not only does it provide clean power from an inexhaustible indigenous source, it also boosts economic development by creating jobs, channelling investment into a sustainable energy model and saving billions in foreign imports of fossil fuels. In order to achieve high penetrations of PV by 2020, temporary market support will be needed in regions where PV is still in a pre-competitive phase. A macroeconomic analysis performed by EPIA has shown that in Europe, market support required for boosting PV to cover 12 per cent of the electricity demand in 2020 is an investment – not a cost – yielding a massively positive return to EU society as a whole. This is, inter alia, a consequence of the hedging value of PV; investing in PV in essence locks the price of electricity over the lifetime of the system (25 years or more) against the increase of fossil fuel generation technologies driven by growing and high volatile fuel prices. There are no fuel costs, no geo-political risk and no supply dependence on imported fuels from politically unstable regions In addition, and especially at times of economic uncertainty and high unemployment rates, any technology that demands a substantial level of both skilled and unskilled labour is of considerable economic importance. PV creates a vast diversity of employment across its value chain, ranging from highly skilled scientists and engineers to simple installers. An important part of the workforce is needed lower down the value chain in the distribution, planning and installation of systems, which is in essence revitalising regional economies, providing local and non-displaceable quality jobs and expanding tax bases in rural regions. VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG

© Isofoton PV in a remote rural setting in Bolivia. TECHNOLOGY global environment, is closing fast. The average global temperature is already almost 0.8 degrees higher than in pre-industrial times, and some research indicates that past and present emissions may have already made a further rise of as much as one degree Celsius inevitable. This means that Copenhagen is almost certainly the last chance to get global emissions onto a progressively lower-carbon track that can prevent climate change from reaching two degrees Celsius or more. It is 12 years since the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, so Copenhagen is a rare opportunity for global action. With world emissions still rising steadily, waiting another decade or more to act will make it too late to prevent disastrous climate change. A LOT OF WORK AHEAD FOR A NEW CLIMATE DEAL Whatever the outcome in Copenhagen, we are at a crossroads of our energy future, the design of which will be fundamental to the future of the PV energy industry. Policy-makers have the choice between the path of sustainability, energy security, clean air and water, which would strengthen our economies and reduce our dangerous dependence on imported fuels; or they can continue on the disastrous course of business as usual. The future of our planet depends on making the right choice, and the PV industry stands ready to play its critical part in a sustainable energy future. WHAT MATTERS TO THE PV INDUSTRY? Even in this time of high economic uncertainty, the climate issue remains high on the agenda. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is coming to an end in 2012. While this agreement is not perfect, it is the only international policy tool we have to curb carbon emissions and combat climate change, and coming to an agreement for the period post-2012 in Copenhagen is now essential. For the PV sector, the outcome of these negotiations is critical. In particular, two points are of key interest: the rigour of the emissions reduction targets, and ensuring an expanded carbon market. Targets: the emission reduction targets for industrialised countries under consideration are much greater than those under the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period. If ambitious targets are agreed and enforced, this will have an immediate impact on the framework conditions of the PV sector as the price of carbon will rise substantially and drive energy investment decisions. The flexible mechanisms: The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) must support the whole range of energy projects, including those small and midsize projects that best match the distributed nature of PV structures and the needs of less developed economies. Author Adel El Gammal is Secretary General of EPIA, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. He has been leading work on the ‘SET For 2020’ report, a reference study on the future of PV. He is a civil engineering graduate from the Free University of Brussels (Belgium) and holds Business Administration degrees from Solvay Business School (Belgium) and INSEAD (France). Organisation The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) is the world’s largest photovoltaic industry association, with more than 200 member companies drawn from across the entire solar electricity sector. It represents about 95 per cent of the European photovoltaic industry and 80 per cent of the worldwide photovoltaic industry. EPIA members are present throughout the whole value chain, from silicon, cell and module production to systems development. Enquiries European Photovoltaic Industry Association Renewable Energy House Rue d’Arlon 63-67 1040 Brussels Belgium SOLAR ENERGY 89 THE IMPORTANCE OF COPENHAGEN The window of opportunity to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels of two degrees Celsius or more above the pre-industrial temperature, which could trigger irreversible and catastrophic changes in the Tel: +32 2 465 38 84 | Fax: +32 2 400 10 10 Websites: VISIT: WWW.CLIMATEACTIONPROGRAMME.ORG