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[en] The author is convinced that the 21st century will become the 'solar age'. No renewable energy technology has a bigger potential than direct conversion of sunlight into heat, electricity and (on the longer term) fuels. This makes solar energy indispensible for our future sustainable energy supply. Moreover, technology developments over several decades and economies of scale have brought solar energy ever closer to competitiveness. In selected applications solar energy can already compete with fossil fuel-based alternatives today. Photovoltaic conversion of solar energy (PV) has demonstrated particularly impressive progress in terms of technology development and market growth. The coming decade is considered crucial for the development of PV into a mainstream supplier of electricity. It is expected that PV will gradually reach grid parity with retail electricity in many parts of the world, meaning that the generation costs of PV electricity will be equal to, or lower than, consumer prices of 'grey' electricity. The development of PV, however, does by no means stop in 2020 and the competitiveness of PV will continue to strengthen after that, bringing more markets within reach. Eventually PV is expected to be able to compete with almost all other electricity generation options, allowing application on a vary scale and substantial contributions to the global electricity or even energy consumption.
[nl]Volgens de auteur is zonnestroom is bezig aan een onstuitbare opmars. De ontwikkeling van een technologie voor niche-toepassingen naar een technologie voor grootschalig gebruik verloopt met vallen en opstaan, maar rennend. Het komende decennium wordt gekenmerkt door de overgang van een vrijwel volledig subsidiegedreven sector naar de eerste grote zelfdragende markten. De vraag is niet of, maar uitsluitend hoe snel en in welke vormen zonnestroom zal bijdragen aan de transitie naar een duurzame energiehuishouding.
[en] Although the technology of photovoltaic (PV) solar energy develops gradually, more than revolutionary, the interest for PV is growing enormously. Next to scientific and technological research, in the last few years much attention is paid to the demonstration of new applications and market development. 3 refs
[en] Everybody agrees that there is a bright future for solar energy. After two decades of research and development, the market introduction of solar hot water systems is now taking off. In several countries, including the Netherlands, preparations are also underway for the large-scale introduction of photovoltaic systems. Although the share of thermal and photovoltaic solar energy in the energy supply sector in the Netherlands is very small (0.1 PJ) there are signs of imminent change. According to the Follow-up Policy Document on Energy Conservation, the share of solar energy should increase to 7 PJ by the year 2010. After years of concentrating on research and development, it is now generally recognised that it is time to introduce these technologies onto the market in order to realize the long-term objectives. In this respect, thermal solar energy is ahead of photovoltaics. 4 ills
[en] Solar energy has a huge global and European potential for sustainable generation of electricity, heat and fuels. Photovoltaic solar energy conversion (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) are the two options for electricity generation. In the longer term they may also be used to generate sustainable fuel, especially hydrogen, if that would turn out to be useful in the total energy mix. Because of the different nature of the PV and CSP conversion processes and the related distinctive features, they can be considered largely complementary Clearly, the combination of the two absolutely makes a winning team and may form (or even has to form) the basis of our future sustainable energy system. Grid parity is a rather simplified indicator of the competitiveness of PV. It is nevertheless very useful since it assumes the viewpoint of a potential investor in a PV system and has thus helped to define potential markets. Moreover the concept does roughly illustrate how long it takes PV to reach competitiveness in different segments of the electricity market. It may not be the Holy Grail but it is certainly no hype either. When used with care it is one key to the success of PV.
[en] Photovoltaic solar energy (PV) is used for direct conversion of sunlight into electricity. It is not to be confused with low-temperature thermal solar energy (e.g. solar domestic hot water systems) and with solar electricity production using a conventional high-temperature steam cycle (using parabolic troughs or 'power towers'). Important features of PV are: inherently renewable; sustainable if well designed, manufactured, used, and disposed; no moving parts, quiet; reliable if well designed and engineered; modular (from milliwatts to multi-megawatts); suitable for a wide variety of applications (stand-alone and grid-connected); large potential (regionally and globally); intermittent; capacity factor (ratio of average system power to installed (=peak) power) =0.08-0.24. PV is among the major renewable energy technologies in all well known energy scenarios, although a substantial role in % of the total energy production can only be achieved on the long term (typically 40-60 years years). Fortunately, long before that the PV market may be a rapidly growing, multi-billion euro business, providing enormous economic opportunities and many jobs
[en] This paper gives an overview of PV (photovoltaic) R and D in The Netherlands, and describes the public and private framework in which PV development takes place. Moreover, it discusses recent changes in the government policy concerning PV implementation