From December 2-13, UN Secretary-General António Guterres is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, where global leaders are discussing their environmental agendas and specifying their nationally determined climate contributions. With solar playing a key role in the decarbonisation of the energy sector, REC Group is taking stock of what has been achieved in the solar PV industry since Paris, and especially, what action is still required based on its study “Closing the COP21 Gap by Going Solar”.
Today more than ever, people throughout the world are concerned about the pace in tackling climate change. With increasing evidence about the impact of GHG emissions already visible today, they demand swift and decisive action. COP25 is the next chance to ratchet-up international climate ambitions by agreeing on rules for market mechanisms or delivering more detailed plans to enhance nationally determined contributions by 2020, which must be in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade – and to net zero emissions by 2050.
“Roughly one third of energy-related emissions worldwide derive from the power sector” said Steve O’Neil, CEO of REC Group, emphasising the decisive role of solar to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “To live up to the Paris Agreement, we therefore need a fundamental and quick change of our energy systems in the decades to come - with solar being at the forefront of this global energy transition. Solar PV is the only renewable energy source, which can be deployed quickly enough at feasible sizes, on rooftops, the ground and water without any externalities. Cumulated solar PV installations in the past four years exceeded the 2015 forecast by 36 percent. This is good, but not good enough. At REC Group, we truly believe in empowering consumers via solar energy and high-end products to successfully mitigate climate change.”
Acknowledging the crucial role solar has to play in future energy generation, REC Group published the study “Closing the COP21 Gap by Going Solar” in June 2016. As one of the first of its kind, the study investigates the required solar capacity to stay in line with the 2°C and 1.5°C goal as stipulated in the Paris Agreement. This analysis is conducted globally and across some REC Group’s key markets – the US, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium. The good news is that annual solar growth rates until 2019 outpaced projections made prior to COP21. REC Group's market analysts expect that global solar installations are about to reach roughly 120 GW in 2019 while projections based on 2015 trends forecasted only 81 GW. The increase was partly facilitated by the momentum created by the Paris Agreement but most importantly fostered by the sharp decrease in PV system costs.
However, with 396 GW installed in 2016 - 2019, the world is falling short by 20 GW to limit global warming to 2°C; and 80 GW to 1.5°C while the global energy demand is constantly increasingly. Already by 2025, up to 4,500 GW of additional solar capacity on top of actual forecasts will be required. Considering the broad application potential of solar also in other sectors like transportation and heating, the demand for solar deployment would be even much higher.
The solar industry as well needs to be more ambitious with innovative products that empower homeowners and businesses to reduce their emissions. REC Group’s Alpha Series solar panels, featuring increased efficiency by 20 percent, is being promoted by the company as an essential milestone, offering industry-beating power of up to 380 watt-peak in a 60-cell format, allowing for maximised savings for rooftop owners.
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