Solar energy offers vast potential to replace fossil fuels for heating, cooling and hot-water generation, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported this week at the International Conference on Solar Heating and Cooling.
|Achieving the roadmap’s “vision” will require rapid expansion of solar energy in the building sector, IEA said.|
But the agency’s “technology roadmap” for solar heating and cooling emphasizes that a concerted, broad-based strategy—and its execution—is needed to bring about the “energy revolution” required to realize this potential.
The IEA’s “roadmap” was outlined this week during the Conference on Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC 2012) in San Francisco.
The “roadmap” projects that by 2050, solar sources will be able to produce the energy equivalent of 450 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), or 18 Exajoule (EJ). Reports estimate primary global energy use of 500 to 600 EJ annually.
The roadmap envisions development and deployment of solar heating and cooling by 2050 that would produce 16.5 EJ (394 Mtoe) solar heating annually, more than 16% of total final energy use for low-temperature heat, and 1.5 EJ solar cooling, nearly 17% of total energy use for cooling.
Solar hot-water production and space heating offer the greatest potential share of the heating segment, at 213 Mtoe (8.9EJ), while the nascent market for solar heat for industrial processes could be the second largest with 171 Mtoe (7.2 EJ) by 2050. Solar swimming-pool heating and solar cooling could provide another 45 Mtoe (1.9 EJ).
Achieving the roadmap’s “vision” will require “rapid expansion” of solar energy in the building sector, IEA said. Among the report’s recommendations and conclusions are the following.
• The development of compact storage to allow heat to be used when the load is required and aiding the deployment of solar space heating in individual buildings. Dedicated research, development and demonstration (RD&D) resources could make compact storage commercially viable between 2020 and 2030.
• Solar cooling could avoid the need for additional electricity transmission capacity caused by higher average peak loads from the rapidly increasing cooling demand in many parts of the world. It can also allow for a more optimal use of solar energy applications for domestic hot water, space heating and cooling. With substantially higher RD&D resources, standardized, cost competitive and reliable solar cooling systems could enter the market between 2015 and 2020.
The Challenge of Making it Happen
But the IEA, based in Paris, says a stable, long-term policy framework for solar heating and cooling development crucial to translating the potential into reality.
Source: Technology Roadmap, Solar Heating and Cooling, International Energy Agency
“Concerted action by all stakeholders is critical to realize the vision laid out in this roadmap,” the agency says in the “key findings” section of the report. “In order to stimulate investment, governments must take the lead role in creating a favorable investment climate for widespread use of solar heating and cooling.”
In particular, the “roadmap” says governments should pursue the following objectives.
• Create a stable, long-term policy framework for solar heating and cooling; establish medium-term targets to maximize the effective use of mature and nearly mature technologies, and long-term targets for advanced technologies that have yet to reach the market.
• Introduce differentiated economic incentives on the basis of competitiveness per technology by means of transparent and predictable frameworks to bridge competitive gaps. Incentives could, for example, be based on feed-in tariffs or renewable portfolio standards for commercial heat and subsidies or tax incentives for end-user technologies.
Economic incentive schemes should be independent of state budget procedures to avoid “stop-and-go” policies where, for example, sudden withdrawal of incentives can destabilize the market.
• Address barriers such as information failures, up-front investment of technologies, lack of quality standards, and the “split-incentive” problem (where the business models and modified regulations in SHC technology do not reap the benefits of reduced energy costs). This can be done through awareness campaigns, industry training and education, support for new business models and modified regulations.
• Provide RD&D funding and support mechanisms to enable promising pre-commercial solar heating and cooling technologies to reach high volume commercial production within the next 10 years.
• In developing countries, expand the efforts of multilateral and bilateral aid organizations to accelerate the deployment of mature and competitive solar heating and cooling technologies, addressing both economic and non-economic barriers.
The complete “roadmap” report is available at Technology Roadmap: Solar Heating and Cooling.