IEA versus the reality of solar PV

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Last week, the IEA published its World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2018. Even in its low ball scenario, it imagines that installed solar PV capacity will overtake that of all other forms of energy apart from gas by 2040. Which, if you ignore the predicted continued dominance of oil, coal and gas, is good news.

That is until you look at its baseline scenario – the New Policy Scenario – where the agency predicts that between now and 2035, PV demand will steadily decline, with just 90 GW of new capacity being installed annually by this date. It is, at least, expected to resume growth again after this point in time.

The IEA has been guilty of consistently low-balling solar, and renewables, growth. This led Auke Hoekstra, Senior Advisor in Electric Mobility at the Eindhoven University of Technology in January to take the agency to task for getting solar projections wrong year after year (see graphic).

Following the release of its latest report, Hoekstra has now updated his graphic, “IEA versus reality in solar PV” (see main picture), which clearly demonstrates that the IEA still does not understand (or refuses to see) how the global PV market works.

He asks: “Do these guys ever learn?”

For the IEA, it seems that exponential PV growth, which the industry has witnessed in recent years, is impossible. Perhaps next year, it will finally get the message, although not many have faith that the agency will fundamentally change its scenarios away from conventional fuels. Meaning we can already look forward to next year’s graphic from Hoekstra.