Socio-Economic Aspects of the Transition to High PV Contributiong
1. Higher awareness of solar PV-related externalities and benefits
Based on competitiveness, sustainability, energy independency, PV can be the key enabler for the sustainable energy transition, especially with a new way of integration of PV technologies (dual func- tion of land for Agri-PV, BIPV, use of build space like parking spaces, roads etc.) and create awareness for additional electricity needs due to sector coupling (mobility, heating, H2 in industries, desalina- tion, hybrid generation and coupling with other energy sources).
Wide societal involvement and participation for solar PV deployment
PV is a renewable energy technology which can be employed by everyone. Facing the urgent need to increase renewable electricity generation to meet the goals of the European Green Deal and the climate protection goals of the Paris Agreement, it is a logical step to utilise PV technology on a wider scale.
Nowadays, PV benefits from widely spread high technology acceptance in relation to all existing re- newable energy technologies. Nevertheless, when looking at figures for implementation, the imple- mentation of PV on a regional or local level does not coincide with the wide-spread high technology acceptance of PV. Reasons behind this paradox is a gap between technology acceptance and the efforts which anyone has to put into the development and execution of PV implementation until it is operational. Therefore, increased involvement and direct participation of all stakeholders must be a major objective for the years to come. The relevant stakeholders (private/ commercial inves- tors, installers, municipal/regional planning authorities, grid operators etc.) want simplification of regulations, the end of permissions and opportunities to deploy PV for individual or collective sup- ply. Accordingly, research has to extract and disseminate factors increasing the attractiveness for implementation, procedures that simplify implementations will be key. The objective is to design conditions which go beyond acceptance but enable that implementing and employing PV electricity become self-evident like buying new shoes.
Developing a PV hotbed for urban implementation
PV is the only renewable energy technology that can enable renewable electricity generation in ur- ban and highly dense spaces throughout Europe. This has been acknowledged in smart city strat- egies from EU and member states. Cities and urban regions will be one of the major boosters to increase the implementation of PV within the current decade. Therefore, Europe needs to provide a kick-start for initiatives which design regulatory and administrative environments for cities, regions, energy communities to increase the implementation of PV to 25 % or more of the total electricity demand. Collaboration between scientific and municipal stakeholders can bear the requirements for citizens and suppliers to make quick progress towards solar cities and solar energy communities. Ac- cessibility to financing and crowdfunding solutions have to be aligned to support progress and urban economies. National regulatory bodies have to be involved in research and transfer, as legislation in European member states will be crucial as enablers for making PV in urban territories a game chang- er in the fight against global climate change - through their potentials of the existing roof spaces, PV in double space use on parking and other useful areas, by activation of building owners, companies and the PV business sector.
The next decade is crucial for the success of energy transition and an accelerated deployment of PV, because any new investment in fossil power generation over this timespan will otherwise become a stranded asset later and increase the societal costs.
2. Economic & sustainability benefits
The roll out of PV installations create jobs. In Sweden it has been shown about 10 full-time labour places per installed MW (82) (on yearly basis, on a national average) are created in the down-stream sector, which contain actors such as installers, retailers, utilities, consulting firms and real estate owners. These jobs created in the installation phase are spread between low educational jobs (such as fitters), medium educational jobs (such as electricians) and high educational jobs (such as compu- tational engineers). In addition to job creation in the installation phase, the number of people need- ed for operation and maintenance will increase as the cumulative PV capacity grows and the age of the running PV systems increases. Worldwide employment in the solar PV industry was estimated at 4 million workers in 2020. Solar PV employment in all of Europe is estimated at 239,000 jobs in 2020; and could consist of 19.9 million jobs worldwide by 2050. (83) In 2020, the solar sector created around 357,000 direct and indirect jobs, and solar sector jobs are predicted to grow to 584,000 positions in 2025.
If the shares of PV components manufactured increases as a result of a revival of the European solar industry, more than 100 000 jobs (85) in the up-stream PV sector could also be created. The upstream sector encompasses both low educational jobs (such as factory workers) and high educational jobs (such as process and development engineers). The supply of competence is a key parameter for the social acceptance of PV as it creates jobs for the society and also ensures higher quality products and installations by well-trained workers. Well-functioning products that deliver as promised and do not break down are important for the general acceptance of any technology. High quality education and training programmes including certification are therefore important socio-economic factors for PV.