IEA Releases Two Solar Technology Roadmaps

11 May 2010: The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released two Roadmaps on Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic (PV) electricity production during the Mediterranean Solar Plan Conference taking place in Valencia, Spain, from 11-12 May 2010. In introducing the roadmaps, IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka underscored that solar energy could represent 20-25% of global electricity production and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by six billion tons per year by 2050.

Tanaka also emphasized that these two solar technologies are more companions than competitors. These two Technology Roadmaps are part of a series that will cover a total of 19 energy technologies divided between supply and demand side applications. Their aim is to enable energy technology development to quickly gain momentum in order to confront global sustainability and energy security challenges. Each Roadmap addresses technical, legal, policy, economic and organizational aspects of advancing development of these respective technologies.

The Solar PV Roadmap emphasizes that this technology is already reliable and commercially viable, and needs to be backed up with long-term policy support structures to ensure its broad implementation. If handled appropriately, the report finds that PV holds the potential to achieve competitive parity with other forms of electricity generation by 2020 and provide 11% of global electricity production by 2050. As this occurs however, energy storage and management are foreseen to become more and more of a challenge for future research and development.

In comparison to PV, CSP is more restricted geographically in its implementation but faces fewer energy storage challenges due to thermal retention in the collectors. The Roadmap envisages North America as the largest consumer and producer of CSP in the future, followed by Africa, India and the Middle East. One of the main challenges is and will be the typical distance between areas of production and consumption. In addition, because CSP is less developed than PV technologies, CSP will likely only be cost competitive around 2030. Recommendations are also formulated in terms of the need for long-term, reliable policy and support structures. [IEA Press Release] [Concentrated Solar Power Roadmap] [Concentrated Solar Power Brochure] [Photovoltaic Roadmap] [Photovoltaic Brochure] [Conference Website]