Shedding light on solar technologies–A techno-economic assessment and its policy implications

Author: Peters, M.; Schmidt, T.S.; Wiederkehr, D.; Schneider, M.

Description: Solar power technologies will have to become a major pillar in the world’s future energy system to combat climate change and resource depletion. However, it is unclear which solar technology is and will prove most viable. Therefore, a comprehensive comparative assessment of solar technologies along the key quantitative and qualitative competitiveness criteria is needed. Based on a literature review and detailed techno-economic modeling for 2010 and 2020 in five locations, we provide such an assessment for the three currently leading large-scale solar technologies. We show that today these technologies cannot yet compete with conventional forms of power generation but approach competitiveness around 2020 in favorable locations. Furthermore, from a global perspective we find that none of the solar technologies emerges as a clear winner and that cost of storing energy differs by technology and can change the order of competitiveness in some instances. Importantly, the competitiveness of the different technologies varies considerably across locations due to differences in, e.g., solar resource and discount rates. Based on this analysis, we discuss policy implications with regard to fostering the diffusion of solar technologies while increasing the efficiency of policy support through an adequate geographical allocation of solar technologies.

Subject headings: Photovoltaics (PV); Concentrating solar power (CSP); Technology; Climate change; Energy

Publication year: 2011

Journal or book title: Energy Policy

Volume: 39

Issue: 10

Pages: 6422-6439

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 847