001 / Photovoltaic Carrots & Sticks
Welcome to the new Stet newsletter, previously known as In Abeyance, which ran for 3 years. In addition to the name change, Stet will also follow a slightly different format.
Every 2 weeks I will share one single idea about the built environment. The very second article written for the old In Abeyance newsletter was centred around photovoltaics - it’s therefore fitting that Stet starts life on the same topic.
For those wondering if I will do my 1500 word articles, the answer is of course, however they will follow their own schedule and will be released when they are good and ready.
I first discovered the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) PV cell efficiency chart nearly 4 years ago. At the time it was only available as a static image. NREL now offers the same chart (dating back decades) in a new interactive version. PV efficiency gains cannot boast the leaps recorded by semiconductors, however they are consistent in their upward trend. All the while their overall cost continues to plummet at a rate that far exceeds previous expectations and predictions.
That’s the carrot.
China’s place in this sector cannot be understated. The IEA Solar PV Global Supply Chains report has China’s share of the industry at 80% and could ‘soon’ increase to 95%. While the boom in this sector is encouraging, the sector provides no resilience or redundancy and could benefit from serious diversification. One country has a near monopoly on all global PV production.
And that’s the stick.