On the role of solar photovoltaics in global energy transition scenarios

Christian Breyer (Corresponding Author), Dmitrii Bogdanov, Ashish Gulagi, Arman Aghahosseini, Larissa S.N.S. Barbosa, Otto Koskinen, Maulidi Barasa, Upeksha Caldera, Svetlana Afanasyeva, Michael Child, Javier Farfan, Pasi Vainikka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    222 Citations (Scopus)


    The global energy system has to be transformed towards high levels of sustainability in order to comply with the COP21 agreement. Solar photovoltaic (PV) offers excellent characteristics to play a major role in this energy transition. The key objective of this work is to investigate the role of PV in the global energy transition based on respective scenarios and a newly introduced energy transition model developed by the authors. A progressive group of energy transition scenarios present results of a fast growth of installed PV capacities and a high energy supply share of solar energy to the total primary energy demand in the world in the decades to come. These progressive energy transition scenarios can be confirmed. For the very first time, a full hourly modelling for an entire year is performed for the world, subdivided in 145 sub-regions, which is required to reflect the intermittent character of the future energy system. The model derives total installed solar PV capacity requirements of 7.1-9.1 TWp for the electricity sector (as of the year 2015) and 27.4 TWp for the entire energy system in the mid-term. The long-term capacity is expected to be 42 TWp and, because of the ongoing cost reduction of PV and battery technologies, this value is found to be the lower limit for the installed capacities. Solar PV electricity is expected to be the largest, least cost and most relevant source of energy in the mid-term to long-term for the global energy supply.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)727-745
    JournalProgress in Photovoltaics
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • 100% renewable energy
    • battery demand
    • energy transition scenario
    • hourly resolution
    • PV demand


    Dive into the research topics of 'On the role of solar photovoltaics in global energy transition scenarios'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this