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"By 2013 20% of global electricity sales will be most cost-effectively supplied by solar PV"


14 April 2011 by

A renowned visionary, Jigar Shah is committed to renewable energy and sustainable solutions that enable prosperity beyond the carbon economy. As CEO of the Carbon War Room, Jigar is dedicated to indentifying business-as-usual practices and replacing them with low-carbon solutions. Prior to the Carbon War Room, Jigar founded SunEdison in 2003. In this interview, Jigar Shah talks about how he thinks that the PV market will develop in the near future.


The PV market seems to grow more each year than analysts can predict. Most predictions turned out to be too pessimistic. How do you see the PV market for 2011 and 2012?
Solar prices are coming down quickly.  This is not just in modules but the innovation has really been in power electronics and balance of systems.  The lower costs are causing many countries to grow quickly.  People underestimate the number of entrepreneurs focusing on climate solutions such as solar.
 
Will the PV market continue to increase spectacularly in the coming years or will it decrease because of governments ending or reducing feed-in tariffs?

In fact the reduction of feed-in tariffs is critical to reaching the next phase of growth.  Solar will reach grid parity for over 20% of all electricity sold globally by 2013 - that’s an enormous market.
 
What are your expectations for the global PV market in 2011 (size in MW new installed power) and 2012? Will a consolidation phase hit the solar industry as production capacity expands quickly while on the other hand there are uncertainties about markets such as Germany, Italy, France, USA, Czech Republic, UK, etc.?
I think we will exceed 20 GW in 2012.  The oversupply is only in manufacturing equipment – only about 20 GW or so will be able to sell panels for less than US$1.40 per Wp.  Concentration is likely, but consolidation probably not.  It is simply not worth buying other competitors when you can grow market share less expensively.  The uncertainties in the markets are good because you will see a move towards grid parity markets in a big way in 2012.
 
What PV projects that you support or know of do you see as the most promising in the coming years?
I think there are large new markets coming in India, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Australia, and the Philippines.
 
What do you see as the biggest threat to solar energy? And the biggest opportunity?
As a distributed generation technology, PV is not affected by cheaper natural gas.  My sense is that you will see incredible growth in the off-grid market – replacing diesel fuel usage around the world.
 
Critics are waiting for the time solar electricity will be cheaper (for residential customers) than electricity from the grid. When and where do you see that happening first? And does reaching grid parity make incentives and feed-in tariffs obsolete?
This is already the case in California, Italy, and other markets with high electricity costs and insolation.  Over the next two years all diesel electricity markets will experience aggressive PV conversion and by 2013 20% of global electricity sales will be most cost-effectively supplied by distributed solar PV.
 
What is your vision on the development of the US PV market? Will the USA surpass Germany in the next 3 years - and if so, why?

The US solar market has been a sleeping giant.  The financial products and sales efforts are more advanced than in any other market worldwide.  As solar continues to come down in price, solar will double each year for the next 3 years, surpassing Germany in 2014. At The Carbon War Room, we harness the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change – Solar is certainly one of the most attractive opportunities and makes economic sense right now.