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"Solar plus" triumphs, LCOEs fall in WoodMac's vision for 2020s

Source: Wood Mackenzie (www.woodmac.com).

February 6 (Renewables Now) - In the next decade, the solar industry will focus on innovation reducing the LCOE, “solar plus” applications like floating photovoltaics (PV) and solar-plus-storage projects will begin to take over the market, and solar repowering will turn into a 67-GW opportunity.

This is according to Wood Mackenzie’s analysts, which see six key themes for the solar sector in the 2020s -- project LCOE reduction, “solar plus” applications, solar repowering, trade tensions and tariffs, intelligent manufacturing, and cybersecurity breaches.

The market research firm says the focus in the 2020s will no longer fall on cutting capital expenditure but will shift to “a more holistic approach” to reduce lifetime system costs. Supply chain innovation is directed towards lowering the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) and the market will see higher efficiencies. The adoption of 5G technology, the internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) will create smart solar factories much different from what we have today.

“Module manufacturers will implement efficient and automated practices to lower production costs. As a result, 500W+ modules will be widespread in the second half of the decade yet cost no more than today’s 400W modules,” said senior analysts Xiaojing Sun.

Standalone solar will be losing its popularity, according to Wood Mackenzie, while floatovoltaics are expected to become prominent in Europe and the Middle East over the next ten years. They are already a common solution in Asia, when there is no viable land for new capacity. 

Solar-plus-storage is already becoming more attractive than solar-only projects for utilities, as the combination offers more dispatchable capacity. 

Repowering will be a big topic in the second half of the decade as 67 GW of direct current (DC) solar capacity reaches 20 years of operation. “With the advent of more efficient and less expensive technology, repowering may even pencil out for sites younger than 20 years,” said Lindsay Cherry, Wood Mackenzie analyst.

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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