The Global Solar Council
recognizes that the enormous potential of solar PV has implications that go far beyond the field of electricity generation: shifting away from centralized energy systems built around fossil fuels and towards far greater penetration of solar power will change economic and social relations, creating new opportunities for people in a vast range of jobs.
Given this immense potential for job creation, the Global Solar Council has set a target of boosting the sector’s employment to 10 million solar jobs by 2030 from 3.61 million in 2018 as estimated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Solar PV is already the biggest renewable energy employer globally, having overtaken bioenergy in terms of jobs in 2015.
Getting to that 10 million-job level will require trillions of dollars in long-term, stable investments and multiple terawatts of PV generation. The Global Solar Council – inspired by its mission to promote the rapid adoption of solar energy globally, through market development, partnerships and education – has adopted five policy positions that support action and implementation towards this goal. They were presented at the COP24 climate summit in Poland in December 2018 and at the COP25 in Madrid in 2019.
1. Recognize that solar PV is a low-cost, reliable and clean source of energy
The Paris agreement has recognized the importance of solar PV to achieving its targets, underlining the importance that national governments develop ambitious and binding policies which accelerate the adoption of solar PV, including innovative solar PV funding policies and mechanisms. Those policies and mechanisms are needed as long as energy markets are distorted by fossil subsidies, do not incorporate CO2 emission prices and inappropriate market designs for distributed renewable energy.
High fossil fuel subsidies impede a level playing field for solar PV and other renewable energy sources.
The regulation of local energy markets must not block a self-sustained technology offtake, e.g., in areas where Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have limited market access or in markets where self-consumption or the use of storage is restricted. Policy makers should take active decisions against such restrictions and establish a level-playing field through measures such as fixed kWh-based remuneration, reverse auction tenders, free access to balance power and other ancillary services markets and public loans for banks, investors and end-users.
The advantages of solar PV:
- Over the term of its expected useful life, solar PV is a low-cost investment, particularly in relation to current primary sources of energy generation using fossil fuels or nuclear power.
- It is a proven technology which can be scaled quickly.
- Solar PV is linked with a broad value chain, creating local jobs and local income.
- It is environmentally sustainable and opens new economic perspectives, thus enabling independence from fossil fuels.
- Solar PV is one of the best tools available to fight climate change and replace carbon-based energy sources—it should become a principal source of electricity generation around the world.
GSC recommends policy makers remove fossil fuel subsidies and transfer those means into support for PV and other renewables. Each dollar invested in solar PV will be transformed into local value and jobs. If a rapid exit from fossil fuel subsidies is not possible, e.g. for social reasons, an exit plan should be implemented that provides a clear pathway for the investment community.
Regulation should be also liberalized in a way that gives solar PV equal access to markets and electrical networks. Governments and regulators should take every possibility to educate stakeholders on the unique attributes of solar PV across multiple end-uses. National solar programs should include campaigns, training and study programs and governments at all levels should utilize public grounds and buildings as showcases to highlight the latest solar PV technologies.
2. Utilize solar PV to alleviate poverty and enforce participative structures
Solar PV has become cost competitive to or cheaper than fossil fuel options in many grid and off-grid-areas around the world. Solar PV payback times are below five years in many countries.
Nevertheless, the mass adoption of solar PV in rural and low-income communities remains constrained by upfront capital costs. In addition, even when mini-grid or off-grid PV systems are economically viable and funding available, limitations for IPPs, restricted competition among utilities and unreliable grid planning can impede the adoption of solar PV.
Policy makers can counteract these difficulties in rural and low-income communities with enforcing participative structures. Governments should promote rural electrification through innovative funding models, grants or credit lines. Governments should also enforce long-term grid planning with reliable timelines to make off-grid investments more secure. Where necessary, off-grid market access should be regulated to encourage solar and other renewable energy generation.
Solar PV generation has no fuel costs, so lifetime generation costs are known and fixed – for developing countries especially this provides long term certainty on energy costs
3. Enhance energy security through solar PV
Solar PV is a local resource, available anywhere in the world at reliably low prices for decades into the future, with predictable yields and a distributed structure that is well protected against external threats. Solar PV also helps nations diversify their energy supply and gain independence from energy imports or from single sources. It relieves the consumption of finite energy resources which is already limiting the economic growth and the growth of energy demand in developing countries.
Beyond power, solar PV unfolds even more potential by coupling efficiently with other energy sectors such as heating, cooling and mobility where a transition towards renewable energy is also necessary. Solar PV can also be combined with other renewable energy sources such as solar thermal, biomass or wind energy in order to increase the renewable shares and improve the security of supply and certainty of costs.
4. Build capacities in the solar sector to anchor the energy transition
The value of solar PV is both immediate and long term. But its deployment requires strong stakeholder structures, and adoption of best practices for deployment is a key goal of GSC. Only with an active PV industry representation, education facilities, competent regulators and academic institutions will solar PV disseminate sustainably and be anchored in existing and developing structures. With strong government and broader support, stakeholder organizations such as the GSC will help increase local knowledge on solar PV and deliver valuable input to PV policy making and delivery of on the ground positive results.
The role of the Global Solar Council:
The Global Solar Council will continue and increase its efforts at collaboration and dialogue with governments and other stakeholders on increasing PV deployment and building private-public partnerships to enhance knowledge transfer and greater international cooperation.
5. Develop, implement and promote internationally recognized solar codes and standards
Policy position and role of the Global Solar Council:
The Global Solar Council is at the forefront of those in our industry deploying high-quality solar PV components that are safe and deliver long-term, reliable yields.
On a global scale, we strongly encourage the best tools for ensuring product safety and quality through the adoption of solar-related codes and standards covering PV systems and their installation, buildings and grid integration. Uniformity of quality and deployment standards will help ensure efficiency, system compatibility and safety.
Codes and standards also have the ability to lower costs through harmonization and to harvest the added system value of solar PV in the energy system. GSC is driving processes to ensure governments, industry, codes and standards development bodies, testing institutes and
inspection authorities work together to create universal internationally compatible codes and standards and disseminate related materials to national control authorities.
Another important aspect of standardization is the harmonization of contracts and other project documents. IRENA, the Terawatt Initiative (TWI) and the GSC have developed the Solar Energy Standardization Initiative to bring together a group of public and private sector stakeholders to define and agree upon the terms of a standard documentation for solar projects that would be effective and generally acceptable by finance institutions. The GSC fully supports this initiative and will continue to contribute to its development.