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The transition to renewables: Can PV provide an answer to the peak oil and climate change challenges?

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  • Lloyd, Bob
  • Forest, Andrew S.

Abstract

This paper explores energy and physical resource limitations to transitioning from fossil fuels to the large-scale generation of electricity with photovoltaic arrays. The model finds that business as usual models, which involve growth rates in world electricity demand of between 2% and 3.2% p.a., exhibit severe material difficulties before the end of this century. If the growth rate is lowered to 1% p.a., then it may be possible to reach the year 2100 before such difficulties, but it is likely that material constraints will occur early the next century. Steady state scenarios show that silicon based photovoltaic panels could, however, displace fossil fuels before the middle of the century, providing around the same order of magnitude as present (2010) world electricity demand. Scenarios also show that outcomes will be highly dependent upon the rate of improvement of photovoltaic technologies. The analysis does not contend that silicon PV technology is the only technology that will or can be adopted, but as the embodied energy content per kWh generated of this technology is similar to other renewable technologies, such as other solar technologies and wind, it can provide a baseline for examining a transition to a mixture of renewable energy sources.

Suggested Citation

  • Lloyd, Bob & Forest, Andrew S., 2010. "The transition to renewables: Can PV provide an answer to the peak oil and climate change challenges?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7378-7394, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:11:p:7378-7394
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fillion, R.M. & Riahi, A.R. & Edrisy, A., 2014. "A review of icing prevention in photovoltaic devices by surface engineering," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 797-809.
    2. Dale, Michael & Krumdieck, Susan & Bodger, Pat, 2011. "Net energy yield from production of conventional oil," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(11), pages 7095-7102.
    3. Subbarao, Srikanth & Lloyd, Bob, 2011. "Can the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) deliver?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1600-1611, March.
    4. Raugei, Marco & Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere & Fthenakis, Vasilis, 2012. "The energy return on energy investment (EROI) of photovoltaics: Methodology and comparisons with fossil fuel life cycles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 576-582.
    5. repec:eee:ecomod:v:223:y:2011:i:1:p:72-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Silveira, Jose Luz & Tuna, Celso Eduardo & Lamas, Wendell de Queiroz, 2013. "The need of subsidy for the implementation of photovoltaic solar energy as supporting of decentralized electrical power generation in Brazil," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 133-141.
    7. Beliën, Jeroen & De Boeck, Liesje & Colpaert, Jan & Cooman, Gert, 2013. "The best time to invest in photovoltaic panels in Flanders," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 348-358.
    8. Cucchiella, Federica & D'Adamo, Idiano, 2012. "Estimation of the energetic and environmental impacts of a roof-mounted building-integrated photovoltaic systems," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(7), pages 5245-5259.
    9. repec:gam:jeners:v:8:y:2015:i:11:p:12997-13020:d:58940 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Carey W. King, 2015. "Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics, Part 3: Macroeconomic Historical and Future Perspectives," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-24, November.
    11. Usubiaga, Arkaitz & Acosta-Fernández, José & McDowall, Will & Li, Francis G.N., 2017. "Exploring the macro-scale CO2 mitigation potential of photovoltaics and wind energy in Europe's energy transition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 203-213.
    12. Tyagi, V.V. & Rahim, Nurul A.A. & Rahim, N.A. & Selvaraj, Jeyraj A./L., 2013. "Progress in solar PV technology: Research and achievement," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 443-461.

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