A1 Journal article (refereed), original research (Journal article, original research)

Low-cost solar power enables a sustainable energy industry system

Open Access publication

Publication Details

Authors: Breyer Christian

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences

Publication year: 2021

Language: English

Related journal or series: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Journal acronym: PNAS

Volume number: 118

Issue number: 49

ISSN: 0027-8424

eISSN: 1091-6490

JUFO level of this publication: 3

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116940118

Permanent website address: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/49/e2116940118

Open Access: Open Access publication


Hothouse Earth is endangering the stability of planetary ecosystems at an unprecedented level; consequently, an immediate phase-out of anthropogenic greenhouse gases is required to restabilize global ecosystems (1). Approximately 84% of global CO2 emissions are anthropogenic, relating to the energy system and industrial activities (2). The leading economies of the world must, therefore, assume a role of true global leadership in order to develop a strategy for the survival of mankind. In PNAS, Lu et al. (3) show, with analytical precision, how China could not only massively reduce CO2 emissions but also further boost its economic growth from CO2 reduction through the utilization of low-cost electricity. Because solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity will be cheaper than China’s current coal-based electricity supply, China can expect substantial economic growth from a massive and rapid ramping up of solar PV capacities. The solar PV potential in China is several factors larger than its long-term total energy demand, as the 99.2 PWh of identified technical potential as of 2020 is projected to increase to 146.1 PWh in 2060. As of 2021, the current technical potential of 78.2% of the 2020 value has already reached price parity with coal-based electricity generation, according to Lu et al. (3). Since the execution of this research, coal prices have reached even higher levels. The steep cost decline of solar PV is a catalyst for the integration of other energy technologies required for a highly sustainable energy system, in particular, battery storage and electrolyzers. Consequently, this leads to the fundamental conclusion of Lu et al. (3) that PV battery systems will form a central pillar of the power system in China due to the system’s low cost, sustainability, scalability, and distributed resource availability across the entire country.

Research Areas

Last updated on 2021-23-12 at 08:20