Solar PV based power generation started picking up after 1973 oil crisis and 1979 energy crisis through R&D efforts by the developed countries. Though the unit cost of power generation is much higher than conventional power generation, solar energy is still competitive in certain applications, especially in remote areas where grid power is not available.
Such applications include (but not limited to) cathodic protection of pipelines, power for offshore oil rigs, rail-road crossings, light-houses, domestic lighting, street lighting, traffic signal, village electrification, water pumping, powering of remote telecommunication station, battery charging, etc. Large scale solar thermal power plants are in operation around the world.
Photovoltaics had already shown impressive annual growth rates of more than 30% during the last 10 years. Due to its enormous potential and the possibilities for flexible off-grid as well as on-grid connections it is seen as the future renewable energy source with the highest and steadiest growth rates of all.
The expected cost reduction and the flexibility of PV systems can make it the second largest contributor among the overall share of renewables in 2040. Solar PV demand across the African and Asian regions remains highly fragmented and is characterized by a diverse range of policies and end-market drivers. However, solar PV is well understood by policy makers in these regions, with the Southeast Asia region widely being recognized as a leading hub for manufacturing.
In India, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, is a major policy initiative targeting 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022. The plan also covers offgrid solar power, with special attention on rural electrification, solar lighting and heat (solar water heaters).
Indonesia has long-term plans for solar power to provide 0.3% of the national energy mix by 2025, equivalent to 1 GW of new solar demand. Indonesia is forecasted to become the second largest solar PV market within the Southeast Asia region by 2017, supported by forthcoming feed-in-tariff incentives. Taiwan and South Korea have also prioritized solar PV within their renewable energy targets.
The Philippines accumulated more than 500 MW within its solar PV pipeline at the end of 2012, with strong investments coming from Japan and South Korea. Bangladesh has developed a large off-grid PV market with plans to install an additional one million solar PV systems by 2016.
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