Two billion households worldwide could realistically be powered by solar energy by 2025, according to a joint report launched by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and Greenpeace.

The report concludes that thanks to advances in technology, increasing competition and investment in production facilities, solar power has now become a serious contender in the electricity market; able to provide low-cost, clean, CO2 emission free energy.

The report also concludes that the global photovoltaic (PV) industry could potentially create more than 2 million jobs by 2040 plus a cut in annual CO2 emissions of 350 million tonnes (2) - equivalent to 140 coal power plants – by 2025, and become the energy of choice for consumers. “In the past consumers have had little or no choice about their source of energy. They have had to stand on the sidelines, watching their energy bills escalate as their utility companies invest profits into the very fuels that are causing energy prices to rise in the first place,” said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International Climate & Energy Campaigner.

”This report proves that solar power is a real option for consumers, offering freedom from rising energy costs and most importantly, electricity generated without the CO2 emissions. The day you install a solar generator on your roof, is independence day from your energy bill.” Competition amongst the major manufacturers has become increasingly intense, with new players entering the market as the potential for photovoltaics (PV) opens up.

The worldwide PV industry, particularly in Europe and Japan, is investing heavily in new production facilities and technologies. At the same time, political support for the development of solar electricity has led to far-reaching promotion frameworks being put in place in a number of countries, notably Germany, Japan, the United States and China.

However, more investment is needed if solar is to fulfil its potential of providing 16% of the world’s energy demand by 2040. “In 2006 the solar industry will invest well over 1 billion Euros along the whole value chain in new solar factories and R&D in order to increase the economy of scale and to lower the costs for solar photovoltaic systems,” said Dr. Winfried Hoffmann, President of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and member of the managing committee of SCHOTT Solar.

“The global PV industry is ready to invest even more for years to come, but there must be a stable political framework for the next ten years to enable this investment to pay off.” “Solar energy is on the brink of leading the highly competitive consumer energy market, therefore the industry must invest now in mass production to bring the costs down,” concluded Sven Teske.

“The next two years are crucial for solar electricity to move out of the niche market and into mainstream energy production where it belongs. For the expansion of solar power to be successful, commitment from not only the industry but also Governments must play their part in the energy revolution.

The industry is ready – where are the Governments?” (3). In 2005 the total installed capacity of solar PV systems around the world passed the landmark figure of 5000MW (= 10 average size coal power plants). Global shipments of PV cells and modules have been growing at an average annual rate of more than 40% for the past few years. Such has been the growth in the solar electricity industry that business only of the European PV industry in 2005 was worth more than € 5 billion; on a global scale the industry’s turnover was approximately €10 billion.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.