Global installed solar capacity would be doubled by 2025 and quadrupled to 3,000 GW by 2030, DNV said in its latest technology report.
The report stated that global solar power generation could expand 30-fold to 22,000 TWh in 2050 from 190 TWh in 2019 and would account for the largest share of new renewable capacity.
Over the past few years, the solar industry transitioned to more efficient passivated emitter rear contact (PERC) technology through upgrades of existing lines and the development of new manufacturing capacity. This allowed the industry to deploy bifacial cell and module technologies that collect energy from both sides of panels and increase power generation.
In addition, module manufacturers developed half-cell modules and new multi-busbar silicon modules that reduce metallization costs to lower overall module costs while increasing efficiency.
The report noted that solar module manufacturers would continue optimizing the design and reducing production costs throughout the upcoming decade. In addition, new large-format cells and modules are expected to reduce manufacturing and system installation costs while increasing their efficiency.
In addition, inverters, trackers, and racking solutions for solar systems continue to increase energy yields, thereby further reducing costs.
Floating wind technology
The report projected that offshore floating wind capacity could reach 250 GW by 2050 from 88 MW in 2022 as the new technology provides access to abundant wind resources over deep water. In addition, the significant technological development in the floating wind would help the new technology increase its acceptability while reducing costs.
Floating wind will scale in turbine size and wind farm size in the next few years as technology provides solutions for large turbines over 20 MW capacity to lead design modification. However, it requires the industry to address several challenges to expand application, scale, and reduce costs of floating wind without compromising on safety.
According to the report, the cost of floating wind is expected to go down by 70% to less than €50 (~$59.19)/MWh by 2050 from over €130 (~153.88)/MWh in 2020. To reduce floating wind costs by 70%, the industry needs to standardize design concepts, and different fabrication approaches through collaboration that can provide efficient fabrication facilities to the supply chain.
In November 2020, the European Commission unveiled a strategy to increase Europe’s offshore wind capacity up to 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050, from its existing capacity of 12 GW.
DVN said lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries enabled electric vehicles (EVs), reshaped portable electronics, and would be an essential part of the renewable energy infrastructure. In addition, the cost of Li-ion batteries in large-scale manufacturing has reduced, and the energy density has increased.
Half of the passenger cars sold globally are slated to be electric by 2030 due to improvements in Li-ion batteries. The researchers are also focused on enhancing energy density, safety, and size while reducing the costs of Li-ion batteries.
The researchers are also focusing on developing new battery technologies such as flow batteries for grid-scale energy storage. However, these new battery technologies need to address design challenges and prove commercial viability.
As per the report, the transportation sector accounts for 27% of global energy demand and contributes significantly to carbon dioxide emissions. The number of vehicles will be increased by around 60% by 2050. However, their energy demand is expected to decline 84% due to the revolution in EV technologies over the next three decades.
The cost of EVs declined in the past few years due to high-specific EV designs, improved motor efficiency, heat pumps’ use to control cabin temperature, and the decline in cost of Li-ion batteries from ₹1,110/kWh to $140/KWh to date.
According to the report, passenger vehicles’ battery cost is expected to be below $80/KWh, and the average vehicle range would be over 600 kilometers within the next five years. In Europe, 50% of new vehicle sales are expected to be EVs by 2026.
The report stated that the industry needs substantial investment to deploy charging infrastructure with the rising number of EVs.
The report said that vehicle-to-grid services would be a nascent market for vehicle manufacturers, energy suppliers, aggregators, and grid operators in the next five years. By 2050, the total capacity of EV batteries would be over 150,000 GWh, five times higher than the energy capacity of all stationary energy storage, including pumped hydro.
Green hydrogen production
According to the report, global demand for green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis, as an energy carrier is expected to be around 24 exajoule annually by 2050. The transport sector and manufacturing sector will be accounted for major uptakes of green hydrogen.
The report stated that the cost competitiveness of green hydrogen would increase in the upcoming decade by improving electrolysis’ efficiency and decreasing its capital expenditure.
The European Commission has set a target of 40 GW of electrolysis projects in Europe and 40 GW of electrolysis projects in other parts of the world by 2030.
Currently, four electrolysis technologies are used to produce hydrogen, including alkaline electrolysis (AE), proton exchange membrane (PEM), solid oxide electrolysis (SOE), and anion exchange membrane. Of this, AE and PEM compete for commercial positions as both technologies are mature. While SOE has just entered the commercial market.
For AE and PEM technologies, the cost is reduced through large-scale electrolysis projects. In addition, standardization, upscaling, and improvement of manufacturing processes are expected to drive down the cost of AE and PEM technologies.
“In Latin America and Africa, we already see green hydrogen production costs between $2/kg and $3/kg using solar energy. This will also encourage a global green energy market,” said DNV.
According to the International Energy Agency’s latest market update, the amount of renewable electricity capacity added in 2020 rose by 45% to 280 GW, the largest year-on-year increase since 1999.