The road to PV competitiveness - PV generation cost in Europe

Published: December 1, 2011

By Pieterjan Vanbuggenhout, Business Analyst, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA); Gaëtan Masson, Head of Business Intelligence, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA)

In recent years solar photovoltaic electricity has shown a steady decrease in cost, thanks to technological improvements and economies of scale. Over the last 20 years the price of PV modules has dropped by more than 20% each time the cumulative volume of PV modules sold has doubled. System prices have fallen accordingly: during the last 5 years a price decrease of 50% has been seen in Europe. This trend will continue in the foreseeable future. System prices are expected to fall in the next 10 years by 36–51%, depending on the segment. Importantly, there is a huge potential for further reductions in generation costs: around 50% by 2020. The cost of PV electricity generation in Europe could decrease from 0.16–0.35€/kWh in 2010 to 0.08–0.18€/kWh in 2020, depending on system size and irradiance level. That decline in cost will continue in the coming years as the PV industry progresses towards becoming competitive with conventional energy sources. Under the right policy and market conditions, PV competitiveness can be achieved in some markets as early as 2013, and then spread across the Continent in the different market segments by 2020. This paper summarizes the first part of a newly published EPIA report about PV competing in the energy sector. The report illustrates why PV can become a mainstream player in the energy field before 2020. The study, carried out with the support of the strategic consulting firm A.T. Kearney, shines new light on the evolution of Europe’s future energy mix and PV’s role in it.

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