International Energy Agency PV Power Systems Program

The International Energy Agency (IEA), founded in 1974, is an autonomous body within the OECD that carries out a comprehensive program of international energy co-operation. Aims of the IEA include:

  • Promote sustainable energy policies that spur economic growth and environmental protection in a global context – particularly in terms of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
  • Support global collaboration on energy technology to secure future energy supplies and mitigate their environmental impact, including through improved energy efficiency and development and deployment of low-carbon technologies.

The IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Program (IEA PVPS)  is one of the collaborative R & D agreements established within the IEA and its participants have been conducting a variety of joint projects concerning the applications of solar electricity since 1993. Features of IEA PVPS include:

  • Regarded as “one of the most active, successful programs”
  • Global network of expertise
  • Broad variety of stakeholders
  • Independent, objective, neutral
  • Analyses & recommendations carry weight because of the IEA connection
  • Work carried out on a task-shared basis.

The participating countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the USA. The European Commission, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, the US Solar Electric Power Association, the US Solar Energy Industries Association and the International Copper Association are also members. Thailand is a pending member.

The overall program is headed by an Executive Committee composed of one representative from each participating country or organisation, while the management of individual Tasks (research projects / activity areas) is the responsibility of Operating Agents. The following is a brief description of the scope of current activities within the program, and reference to those tasks recently completed:

Task 1: Strategic PV analysis and outreach (previously named Information exchange & dissemination) AUSTRALIA participates in this activity.

PV information from the 23 participating countries on national markets, public budgets, industry, prices, economic benefits, policy initiatives, business models, electricity utility activities, standards and codes, and R&D activities.

Range of information tools including workshops, newsletters, reports, website and fact sheets.

Task 8: Very large scale PV systems

Wide-ranging investigations into the feasibility of multi megawatt to gigawatt sized PV projects.

Case studies for selected regions (particularly deserts); practical proposals; socio-economic, financial, technical and environmental considerations.

Four books published.

Task 9: Deploying PV services for regional development

Addressing the use of PV as a means to enhance regional development – both for rural electrification applications and more broadly in the urban environment.

Developing partnerships with appropriate regional and national organizations plus funding agencies, and carrying out work on specific applications of interest and relevant business models.

Task 10: Urban scale PV applications – recently ended (built on the work of Task 7)

Task 11: Hybrid systems – recently ended

Task 12: PV environmental health and safety activities

Quantifying the environmental profile of PV through Life Cycle Analysis.

Addressing technical, industrial and perception issues that are important for sustained growth of the PV sector.

Task 13: Performance and Reliability of PV systems (follow-up from Task 2) AUSTRALIA participates in this activity.

Increasing trust in PV systems and minimizing business risk through quantifying PV component and system performance and behavior.

Operational data from PV systems worldwide, providing information about reliability and yield.

Task 14: High penetration PV in electricity grids (building on work of Tasks 5 & 10) AUSTRALIA participates in this activity.

Investigating the grid interconnection impacts of PV when the amount of PV installed necessitates additional efforts to accommodate its presence (so-called ‘high penetration’).

Addressing the technical issues required to allow the full potential of grid-connected PV to be realized.

Working with electricity utilities, industry and other stakeholders to promote enabling technologies and methodologies.

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