The renewable energy paradigm shift

A fully renewable energy system is economically feasible already at 2050. According to a new Nature study that explores different pathways to long-term sustainability, Solar PV will be the main source of electricity 2050, generating almost 70 % of all electricity globally. The main reasons are rapidly declining cost per produced kWh and a superior technical potential on a global level compared to other sources of energy.

Therefore, it is also obvious to see PV as a key technology for our future heating and cooling needs. Both as distributed roof-top installations and in multimegawatt PV power plants. On the local scale (buildings, districts, cities) it is important to see the energy system as a whole; that includes electricity production, distribution, storage, appliances, digital tools (smartphone apps), EV charging, intelligent control systems and interconnections between different energy carriers (electricity-heat-gas). The building sector is to become a central node in the energy system!

Peak-shaving technologies

When the energy system transforms from being based on fuels towards being technology-based, it unlocks utilisation of a redundant but also weather dependent energy influx. In that context, it becomes increasingly important to also include peak-shaving technologies, storage and flexible demand in the energy efficiency arena. Efficient use of limited and stored energy (fuels) is exchanged for efficient utilisation of redundant and flowing energy. Smart technology in the heating and cooling field can play a significant role in this development, since there is a great advantage of being able to utilise the heat inertia of buildings and district energy systems.

Therefore, heating and cooling can (and should) take an important role in the renewable energy paradigm shift!

Keep on reading:

• Radical transformation pathway towards sustainable electricity via evolutionary steps
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08855-1

• IEA PVPS Task 15 – Enabling Framework for the Acceleration of BIPV
http://www.iea-pvps.org/index.php?id=task15

When PV panels become a more common sight in cities, it will be important that the deployment takes place with respect to aesthetics and social values. Building integrated PV, where the cells can have different colours, can be useful to ease this transition. The first phase of IEA PVPS task 15, on building integrated PV, is coming to an end, and there are lots of useful results to check out.