Tsinghua University Discusses How to Achieve “One Person One kW”

PVTIME - During his European visit, He Jijiang, Executive Deputy Director of the Research Center for Energy Transformation and Social Development, Tsinghua University, discovered that the concept of sustainable development has penetrated into the energy systems of many European countries, and photovoltaics are being widely used in architecture.

Liechtenstein is first in the world in terms of installed solar capacity per capita because of its use of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). In Italy, the Energy Efficiency Action Plan has led to growth in installations of fully integrated energy systems as well as savings in the form of tax reductions for the owners. In Germany, solar rooftop systems can also be seen everywhere and the country has set its target for installed solar capacity per capita to reach 1.2kW per capita by 2030.

How much new installed capacity will China need in order to achieve its 2060 carbon neutrality goal and what does the world have to do to realize a solar capacity per capita of 1kW?

The goal isn’t far away

In order to cope with global climate change, energy transformation is imperative. To this end, Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Energy Transformation and Social Development launched its “One Person One kW” photovoltaics for zero carbon initiative in 2019. The initiative predicts that around 2035, global photovoltaic installed capacity will reach approximately 9000GW, realizing 1kW per capita, completing the energy transition.

Earlier this month, during the "Tsinghua University Datong Second International Forum on Energy Transition", many experts said that the photovoltaic development experience of many European counties should be used as a reference to help China achieve the goal of “One Person One kW” as soon as possible.

Yu Qiqi, a member of Tsinghua’s “One Person One kW” research team, introduced that in Italy, solar collectors are installed on the rooftops of many structures in small towns, and photovoltaic panels are installed in restaurants. Collector panels in courtyards can provide hot water for entire buildings. Photovoltaic bicycle sheds, children's playgrounds, etc. can be seen everywhere in the town.

Another research team member, Sun Chuyu, talked about the forms of photovoltaic construction in the small town of Stephansposching, Germany. Thanks to Germany’s subsidy policy and the rapid reduction in the price of photovoltaic modules, photovoltaic development has grown almost exponentially from 2000 to 2012 in the form of rooftop photovoltaics, building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), and ground photovoltaic power plants.

Sun said, "Most of northern China's annual power generation hours exceed 1000 hours, which is equivalent to that of Stephansposching and has the conditions to develop distributed photovoltaics." In Sun Chuyu's view, if China wants to achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2060, the development of photovoltaics will need to accelerate inevitably, and the goal of " One Person One kW " is not far away.

Plenty of room for improvement in the distributed segment

In 2020, China's added 48.2GW in installed solar capacity, which is the highest in three years. However, land that meets the conditions need for large-scale centralized photovoltaic power station construction in China is becoming harder to come by.

In response to this, Lin Jianwei, Chairman of Jolywood, believes that China should focus on the development of distributed photovoltaic power plants using various rooftop resources in urban and rural areas. According to statistics, at present, China's existing building area can support 400 GW of photovoltaics, and the annual newly completed building area can be installed with 40 GW each year. This shows that there is still immense room for growth in the distributed photovoltaic generation segment.

Lin suggested that enterprises should make full use of all types of roofs in rural areas and integrate them with solar and energy storage products and technologies. In addition, enterprises could also cooperate with government agencies to develop photovoltaic information systems, introduce mobile applications, and enhance the effective utilization and in-situ consumption of distributed photovoltaic systems through transparent data support.

In fact, China introduced relevant policies in 2017 which allowed distributed energy projects to directly sell electricity to surrounding consumers through the distribution network. This peer-to-peer sales model has transformed traditional energy consumers into energy producing investors. Lin believes that under the vision of "carbon neutrality", the promotion of the peer-to-peer model will inevitably expand the installed capacity of distributed power stations, and the realization of "One Person One kW" is just around the corner.

Continuous technological progress is the biggest driving force

Regarding the future development of China’s photovoltaic industry, Wang Yingge, Marketing Director of LONGi, firmly believes that continuous technological advancement is the biggest driving force for the reduction of photovoltaic power generation costs, and rapid reduction of photovoltaic power generation costs is the cornerstone of achieving largescale photovoltaic deployment.

Taking solar cell conversion efficiency as an example, Wang Yingge said that the current conversion efficiency of p-type monocrystalline PERC cells is between 22.8% and 23%, and with the progress of technology, the conversion efficiency will exceed 24%. Furthermore, the efficiency of n-type monocrystalline cells will increase from 23% ~ 24% to 26%, and tandem cells are expected to enter mass production soon.

Wang Yingge predicts that with the continuous advancement of photovoltaic technology, the investment cost of photovoltaic power plants in 2035 and 2050 will drop by 37% and 53%, and the price of modules will drop by 55% and 70%, respectively. With the breakthrough of the policy bottleneck, non-technical costs will also decrease rapidly.

The cost reduction brought about by the advancement of energy storage technology will also provide strong support for large-scale photovoltaic deployment. Data shows that by 2035 and 2050, the investment cost of chemical energy storage systems will drop by at least 60% and 75%, and chemical energy storage technology will gradually become the main supporting means for energy consumption regulation. At the same time, other energy storage technologies such as pumped storage and hydrogen energy will also play an important role.

According to Wang Yingge, BIPV will be widely applied with the maturity of distributed photovoltaic technologies such as solar+storage, virtual power plants, multi-energy complementary distributed energy systems, and microgrids. Under this premise, there will be 30 billion square meters of construction space for BIPV systems, which can support 3000GW of photovoltaic power, the development prospects are extremely encouraging.