Within the four main market segments of PV solar electricity there are already three areas competitive today. These are off-grid industrial and rural as well as consumer applications. The overall growth within the past 8 years was almost 40 % p.a. with a "normal" growth of about 18 % p.a. for the first three market segments whereas the grid connected market increased with an astonishing 63 % p.a. The different growth rates catapulted the contribution of grid connected systems in relation to the total market from about one quarter 6 years ago towards more than three quarters today. The reason for this development is basically due to industry-politically induced market support programs in the aforementioned countries. It is quite important to outline under which boundary conditions grid connected systems will be competitive without support programs like the feed in tariff system in Germany, Spain and some more to come in Europe as well as investment subsidies in Japan, US and some other countries. It will be shown that in a more and more liberalized utility market worldwide electricity produced by PV solar electricity systems will be able to compete with their generating cost against peak power prices from utilities. The point of time for this competitiveness is mainly determined by the following facts:
1. Price decrease for PV solar electricity systems leading to an equivalent decrease in the generated cost for PV produced kWh.
2. Development of a truly liberalized electricity market.
3. Degree of irradiation between times of peak power demand and delivery of PV electricity.
The first topic is discussed using price experience curves. Some explanations will be given to correlate the qualitative number of 20 % price decrease for doubling cumulative worldwide sales derived from the historic price experience curve with a more quantitative analysis based on our EPIA-Roadmap (productivity increase and ongoing improvements for existing technologies as well as development of new concepts to broaden the product portfolio in coming years). The second topic outlines the most likely development of liberalized electricity markets in various regions worldwide. It will be emphasized that in such markets the future prices for electricity will more and more reflect the different cost for bulk and peak power production. This will not only happen for industrial electricity customers - as already today in many countries - but also for private households. The third topic summarizes the existing data and facts by correlating peak power demand and prices traded in various stock exchange markets with delivered PV kWh. It will be shown that a high degree of correlation is existent. Combining the three topics and postulating reverse net metering the competitiveness of PV solar electricity as described is most likely to occur. The described price decrease of modules will also have a very positive impact on off-grid rural applications, mainly in 3rd world countries. It will be shown that this is strongly advanced due to the development of mini-grids starting from solar home systems - with mini grids looking very similar to on-grid applications in weak grid areas of nowadays electricity network.
"PV solar electricity: status and future", Proc. SPIE 6182, Photonic Crystal Materials and Devices III (i.e. V), 618208 (18 April 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.683069; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.683069