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February 2005
Issue 3

News

PV vision report shows way ahead for technology platform

Photovoltaic (PV) technology can make a major contribution to future global sustainable energy supply. Today, use of PV is increasing, but a coherent research, development and deployment strategy is required to achieve its full potential. A vision report launched on 28 September in Brussels outlined the potential for PV in 2030 and beyond. Central to this report is the need to establish a European Technology Platform to coordinate and strengthen research activities and deployment issues for PV over the long term.

Director Pablo Fernández Ruiz addresses the audience during the launch of the PV vision report.
“PV can deliver electricity on a large scale and at the right price,” said Pablo Fernandez Ruiz of DG Research in his opening speech at the conference. The report showed that development of PV technology and a strong and competitive European industry will support European policy initiatives both in terms of security and diversity of supply, international commitments to climate change and international sustainable development. The document was written by the Photovoltaic Technology Research Advisory Council (PV-TRAC) which is a group of leading European PV stakeholders set up in December 2003 by European Commissioners Loyola de Palacio and Philippe Busquin.

Emiliano Perezagua, chair of PV-TRAC, underlined the commitment that had produced the vision document: “16 PV-TRAC meetings in ten months!” Stakeholders from industry, research, utilities, the construction industry, and government all played their part. “Our vision is based on realistic figures and concepts”, Perezagua continued, showing the way forward to “a cost-competitive EU PV sector”. The report defines key areas, key concepts and key priorities to give a common vision. It outlines a process for science, industry and policy-makers to work together through the technology platform in a joint effort to ensure that PV becomes a major component of renewable energy in the future.

Targeting jobs and sustainability

CIS solar panels in action.
CIS solar panels in action.
This view was reinforced by Francois Demarq, vice-chair of PV-TRAC. The vision outlined in the report supports current policy initiatives at global, European and national levels. It covers all PV technologies, systems and applications, whether stand-alone or grid connected, presenting technical targets for a technology in 2030 “based on abundant and non-toxic materials”, producing competitively priced electricity and supplying at least 4% of the world’s electricity – “equivalent to today’s combined electricity consumption of France and Germany”. The economic benefits of a world-class PV industry in Europe could be immense: “200000 – 400000 new jobs could be created spread across Europe”, Mr Demarq claimed.

Philippe Busquin, MEP and former European Commissioner for Research, warmly welcomed the vision report, adding that “the technology platforms concept will become the basis for industrial policy in the EU”. He stated his belief that PV could help eradicate poverty by bringing electricity to remote villages, could create jobs in Europe, and would be at the heart of future sustainable energy policy.

Strong support from the PV industry was underlined by Winifred Hoffmann of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. He believed that the vision enabled bridging between the different needs and timescales of European industry, science and policy-makers for mutual benefit. Professor Nicola Pearsall, vice-chair of the research association EUREC, elaborated on the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) outlined in the report indicating that the goals set should not prejudice any particular technology and that they needed to be reviewed and revised on a regular basis.

During three parallel sessions, delegates examined in detail aspects of the role of industry, the research agenda and policy instruments. There was consensus on the need for a technology platform and broad agreement with the substance of the vision report. Wide consultation will be a feature of the technology platform as it now works on the Strategic Research Agenda and implementation plans.

  • For more information
    Copies of the vision report: “A Vision for Photovoltaic Technology” can be downloaded here.
    More information on the conference.

The call for expressions of interest to participatein the PV Technology Platform closed on 14 February 2005. The Commission is currently assessing the expressions of interest submitted for membership of the platform’s Steering Committee and of its various Working Groups. The intention is to progress the platform’s activities in a dynamic manner, so Steering Committee members must be able to demonstrate a high degree of commitment to the Technology Platform.

The establishment of the platform was endorsed by delegates at the conference held to launch the “Future vision for PV” report on 28 September (see previous article). The PV Platform will develop along-term research and deployment perspective to generate sustainable competitiveness and world leadership for the EU by stimulating increased investment in R&D. It will also work to instigate more effective development of European industry and the market for PV technology.


Participants at the 14th Marie Curie Fellowships Conference in Stuttgart.
Participants at the 14th Marie Curie Fellowships Conference in Stuttgart.

MARIE CURIE FELLOWSHIPS

The 14th Energy Marie Curie Fellowships Conference took place from 23 to 27 October 2004, starting at Fraunhofer-ISE in Freiburg and ending at the IVD Institute at the University of Stuttgart. The theme of the conference was “Integration of Solar and Biomass Technologies in the Built Environment”. Visits were made to Heilbronn biomass co-combustion power plant, the Solar-Fabrik PV manufacturing facility, and the Vauban RES and passive energy housing district of Freiburg, where the photograph was taken. Note that the street is most appropriately named “Marie Curie Strasse”. The next Energy Marie Curie Conference is provisionally planned for Austria in April 2005.

 

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