10.08.2021 | Reliable facts on solar energy

"Energy Payback Time" and more

What is the state of solar energy in Europe and worldwide? How are prices developing? What materials are being used? And when is the amount of energy invested in the construction of a power plant amortised ("Energy Payback Time")? These facts are compiled by the renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. Here you can gain an insight into the latest "Photovoltaics Report".

The aim of the report is to prepare data from a wide range of sources in one report and thus make it easily accessible. In addition to updated figures on photovoltaic production, installation and performance, the current report also contains data that has been compiled for the first time. For example, the energy payback time. This indicates the period of time that a solar system must be operated in order to provide the amount of energy invested. The report shows the historical development as well as comparable values for different regions. For example, the energy payback time for roof systems with silicon solar modules produced in China and an efficiency of 19.9 % in Europe is 1 to 1.3 years. The world leader is India (0.44 years), at the other end of the scale is Canada with 1.42 years.

The report also includes a new European overview map showing the production capacities along the PV value chain for materials, solar cells and PV modules in the individual member states. This shows that especially in the module sector, production facilities are in operation in many European countries - with a total capacity of about 7000 MW per year.

Here are more facts for the fast reader:

  • Photovoltaics is a fast-growing market: The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of cumulative PV installations including off-grid was 34% between year 2010 to 2020.
  • In year 2020 producers from Asia count for 95% of total c-Si PV module production. China (mainland) holds the lead with a share of 67%.Europe contributed with a share of 3%; USA/CAN with 2%.
  • Si-wafer based PV technology accounted for about 95% of the total production in 2020. The share of mono-crystalline technology is now about 84% (compared to 66% in 2019) of total c-Si production.
  • In the last 10 years, the efficiency of average commercial wafer-based silicon modules increased from about 15% to 20%. At the same time, CdTemodule efficiency increased from 9% to 19%.
  • In the laboratory, best performing modules are based on mono-crystalline silicon with 24.4% efficiency. Record efficiencies demonstrate the potential for further efficiency increases at the production level.
  • Inverter efficiency for state-of-the art brand products is 98% and higher.
  • In Germany prices for a typical 10 to 100 kWpPV rooftop-system were around 14,000 €/kWpin 1990. At the end of 2020, such systems cost only 7.4% of the price in 1990. This is a net-price regression of about 92% over a period of 30 years.

Further details can be found here: Photovoltaics Report
(©Fraunhofer ISE: Photovoltaics Report, updated: 27 July 2021)

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