Of pv magazine, January edition.
BThe contrast with the pavilions of the "country of clean coal" and the natural gas of the host country – which occupied a prominent place at the entrance of the public exhibition area, away from the plenary rooms where were held the real works – was visible stand dedicated to solar energy.
It was a juxtaposition, or rather an absence of representation, partly masked by the understandable indignation of delegates attending a conference entirely focused on the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. But the industry's lack of presence did not go unnoticed by all 20,000 visitors to the COP24 meeting.
Nils Røkke is President of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and, as a visitor to previous COP meetings organized annually by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he stressed the lack of visibility of the solar sector, as well as other energy technologies.
"I am not sure that the industry … it is not really present," Røkke said at the end of another day, trying to convey to politicians the importance of coordinating research and clean energy development within a single organization. "I think [COP] is considered too theoretical. We do not see the huge manufacturers here, with the huge screens. You have seen it before, for example in Copenhagen. There is more room for NGOs and politicians.
"I think [the PV industry] should be [here]. [They are] the people who are going to get there, create those gadgets that you need on the ground, so their voice should be better heard in this kind of negotiations. "
See the wood for the trees
Photovoltaics, of course, was mentioned in many presentations during the week pv magazine was present in Katowice, and probably also in the sessions of the previous week. But Røkke expressed concern that the negotiations on a regulation to implement the commitments made three years earlier at the Conference of the Parties in Paris do not jeopardize the knowledge of the technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. .
"You do not see a lot of advertising on [PV] here, he added. "But you do not find so much technology here – the people who push the technology are not really there – where are the windy people here?" There's hardly any.
"I was talking to our Minister of the Environment, Ola Evestuen, who is part of [Norway’s] talks [team], and I said, & # 39;[Is] Anyone talking about what you will do to achieve these goals, with the technologies, you know? The answer is really "no".
"We are talking about how much can you do? How much can you take? What can you do? About sharing [responsibility for emissions reductions]. [Also, we are discussing] what words should we use? Are we going to save "the world" or "the planet", for example, the "mother earth" can not be used because it is too sentimental. And that worries me, because there is a complete detachment, of course, from the technology here, like PV and [asking] "OK, what can photovoltaics do?" Obviously, there will be huge changes in the way we produce electricity, decarbonize the electricity supply, lift people out of poverty, and so on.
The British developer, Proinso, was the only company dedicated to solar energy. pv magazine attended a presentation in Katowice, and the desperately thin presence may have helped to understand why. The huge success of solar may have made the public public until policymakers and journalists all know its benefits. Although the industry's increasingly active R & D sector is distorting these assumptions, Proinso's Marketing and Communications Manager, Masa Njegovan, has expressed a positive view regarding the attendance of his speech and proved the proof. message.
The prospects for China
"I think at an event like this, we can not really expect that they are focusing on one source of energy," she said. "For them, it is rather a policy that will determine the percentage of renewable energy in a mix that will contribute to the total mix of energy production.
"I would not say it's surprising that solar energy is not a key message, but on the other hand, I would say that although this is not a key topic of the main presentations, I have often seen – in very strategic presentations where they talk about renewable energies – they point out that solar energy may play a leading role and also play a leading role in wind energy. I can say that when they talk about it, they do not mention hydro in this perspective.
"They mention the solar and the wind and they obviously make very strong remarks about the preponderant role of solar energy in the future. I would say that the solar industry is getting more attention, although it may not be as articulated as we would like – [by] we in the solar industry.
"Obviously, we have seen the biggest drop in costs in the last 10 years. It's probably one of the most efficient sources of energy today, even among the technologies we currently have, and probably the least expensive in the world. in the future, solar energy will occupy a prominent place. I really do. "
For example, if solar energy was relatively unobtrusive – a defender of photovoltaics was the only missing member of a REN Alliance committee examining a report on a fully renewable energy system. in Europe by 2050 – for example, there were two pavilions where the sun was still shining.
The Chinese booth attracted a large crowd on the last day of the meeting with the presentation of the latest report on the prospects of renewable energy in China (CREO). While government official Xie Zhenhua revealed 24 hours earlier that 69 million jobs would be created with a temperature rise of less than 2 degrees Celsius in his country, the results of CREO have allowed to obtain other statistics captivating, including a prediction that 23% of the solar would be solar. of the nation 's energy by 2050.
It was enough to urge Zhongying Wang to demand that the solar giant's renewable energy ambition be officially adopted in China's 45-year plan.
The importance of the Chinese PV was underscored by the flag, which allowed Al Gore to make a presentation – with the American politician by far the biggest draw in Katowice. The charismatic champion of emissions reduction had preached 24 hours earlier to an enthusiastic audience in most of the COP venue, and had excited the same enthusiasm when he predicted it would be the United States, with a new occupant in the White House, and China. it would lead the global energy transition.
In the neighboring pavilion of India, solar also attracted crowds – a phenomenon that became more pronounced when a talk on climate policy, which did not directly refer to solar, drew a unusually low participation rate. Rupin Dushyant Patel, associate vice president of Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd, said that it was time for solar energy on the roofs to follow in his footsteps, even though he was forced to admit The current goal of the government may be too ambitious.
"The roof [capacity] currently in India it is about 3.4 to 3.5 GW and it's really a very small part of the large capacity we have, "said Patel. "Between the wind and the sun the current [installed capacity] would be close to 75 GW. So what I wanted to say is less than 5% right now, which is why we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to solar rooftop energy. India's ambitious goal is to reach 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, a figure that is much talked about. Of this figure of 175 GW, 40 GW are intended for solar energy on rooftops. So currently we are [looking] in a very small but nascent sector. In addition, for the moment, the situation improves, because on 3.5 GW, nearly 1.5 GW have been installed in the last 12 months. So, month after month, the momentum is picking up, but on the current trend, it could be a little exaggerated. [to reach 40 GW by 2022].
PV as community addiction
"We could maybe reach about 15 to 20 GW, but even then, it's a significant increase in current production of 3.5 GW over the next three to four years. For the figures I mentioned, the potential is great. We are just at the initial stage of the sector. We are working to try to find bankable solutions to facilitate [the] capital flows in this sector and so, yes, we are really seeing it grow. We see it as an essential driver, one of the natural drivers of growth in the growth of [installed renewable] the capacity is concerned. We start from a very small base but, you know, when you change one, we can make a significant contribution to reach our 175 GW capacity. "
Even the revelation made by Anand Kumar, secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energies, that the Indian government is preparing to apply tariffs on batteries in order to attract manufacturers in Southeast Asia, n & # 39; 39; failed to burst the bubble of solar optimism. Indian corner of the vast room.
The popular appeal of small-scale solar energy has also been demonstrated at a round table organized in the EU Pavilion on the benefits of energy co-ops.
Julien Guerrier, Executive Director of the European Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises, explained that such groups had
33 MW of small scale photovoltaic systems in the Spanish farming community, and said that half of European citizens could produce renewable energy by 2050. Another panel member, Dirk Vansintjan, went further, predicting that 83% of the EU population could participate in energy. transition at this stage if you also integrate demand response and energy storage.
And it is Vansintjan who best summed up the irresistible appeal of PV, regardless of the number of tents installed in the heart of the coal-mining region of Poland, when he described solar energy as "a medicinal product". 'entry into the energy transition'.