Climate change and environmental degradation are undeniable threats to our world. To overcome these challenges, the EU launched a new growth strategy that will transform the Union into a sustainable economy. The EU plans to be climate neutral in 2050.
Renewables are set to form the backbones of our future energy system and among them, photovoltaics (PV) has rapidly become one of the most economic energy generation technology. The price of electricity generated by PV has reached a levelized cost of electricity of 5-10 €c/kWh, leading to a major acceleration of its deployment with over 110 GWp of newly installed capacity in 2019 alone. The cumulative installed PV capacity is now 627 GWp and it is expected to reach over 1 TWp by 2025 as predicted by the IEA PVPS. The PV market is largely dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV modules representing 95% of the market share, while thin-film modules remain a niche product. The Terawatt Era of PV modules is approaching fast, and it is raising important questions about end-of-life management as 5 million tons of PV waste by 2030 is projected by IRENA. Embracing a circular economic model for this maturing industry brings a major opportunity to make sure that PV becomes one of the most sustainable sources of energy.
The recent heat storm in California, when everything that could go wrong did, caused prolonged and consecutive mandatory interruptions in electricity supply in the State. The heat wave caused the heavy use of air-conditioning, combined with the unavailability of some power plants to meet the demand (and a number of natural gas plants unexpectedly going offline), the insufficient generation of solar and wind and the inability to import energy from other States, inevitably pushed the grid operators to impose these blackouts. Solar generation plummeted in the evening, the winds slowed faster than expected and the same phenomenon happened in other States that California traditionally imports electricity from.