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About this book

This book provides an up-to-date, rigorous analysis of the state of the art of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation. It focuses on the economic analysis of solar PV generation technologies as well as the policies that have been devised and implemented around the globe to support it. It provides the main theoretical tools for understanding the cost of these technologies, and discusses them from both a historical and comparative perspective with respect to other competing technologies (both conventional and renewable). In addition, it presents the conceptual rationale to maximize reader insights into whether and how public support for these technologies is justified as well as the consequences for the economy of different promotion measures. Integrating concepts from different economics disciplines (environmental economics, innovation economics, industrial economics and public economics) into a coherent basis for the analysis of the costs and policies for solar PV electricity, it provides an update to the literature to reflect recent advances in and deployments of solar electricity and the drastic reduction in associated costs.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to appropriately place the solar PV technology within the set of renewable sources of electricity. This represents a previous conceptual step towards a full and detailed description of its main technical features and the vicissitudes of its development and diffusion. To start with, however, we refer to some basic economic aspects of energy in general and electricity in particular.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 2. Photovoltaic Technologies

Abstract
Any economic analysis of solar PV generation should start with a description of its technical aspects. The aim is not to address the technical details which are rather the work of thousands of researchers and engineers around the world over since several decades ago but to address those technical attributes which are likely to have economic effects, either because they affect key variables such as the cost of equipment or because they are drivers of the perspectives of this energy source for electricity.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 3. Short History and Recent Facts of Photovoltaic Generation

Abstract
Although solar PV is a recent technology for the wider public, it has a long history. This chapter discusses the main technical and economic aspects of the different stages in the history of PV generation.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 4. Economics of Solar Photovoltaic Generation

Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to address solar PV generation from the perspective of economic analysis. In order to do so, we will start describing the main stages and links in the supply chain of this sector, taking into account the firms which have a worldwide leadership in the solar PV market. A simple model to analyse the costs and prices of modules and solar PV installations is provided. Finally, the last section addresses the social value of solar PV electricity, which involves addressing the problems and perspectives of its integration in the electricity grid.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 5. Principles for the Public Promotion of Photovoltaic Generation

Abstract
Policy evaluation in general, and the assessment of support for solar PV in particular, needs to take into account several elements, including assessment criteria, market failures, policy areas to address those failures, goals, targets, technologies, instruments, design elements and different administrative levels. A holistic picture which coherently links those elements is needed in order to fully understand the justification for solar PV support policies as well as their assessment.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 6. Support for Research, Development and Demonstration

Abstract
Technologies in general and renewable energy technologies in particular go through different stages over time. They start being an idea which may become an invention. After the first prototype is built, they become an innovation. Innovation is defined as the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process, or a new organisational method in business practices that reduces costs or improves performance.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 7. Photovoltaic Demand-Side Generation

Abstract
Photovoltaic demand-side generation (PV-DSG) can be defined as the production of electricity by means of panels or arrays (the energy conversion units), which are installed on the customer’s side of the meter (Alanne and Saari 2006).
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 8. Public Support Schemes for the Deployment of Commercial Plants

Abstract
The determinants to the deployment of renewable energy technologies in general and solar PV in particular are multifaceted. They include technoeconomic factors (e.g. resource potentials and investment and variable costs), legal and administrative barriers, political factors, social acceptability and other factors (e.g. subsidies and other advantages to fossil fuels, lack of information, human capital factors and the role of pioneers) (del Río in Renew Sustain Energy Rev 15(5):2520–2533, 2011). However, public policies have been a critical driver in this context. In fact, solar PV has been, and to large extent still is, policy-driven. Relevant aspects with respect to support for solar PV include framework conditions, instruments, design elements within the instruments and the stability of support.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río

Chapter 9. Summing-Up

Abstract
The magnitude and the challenges of the process of structural change in the energy sector are huge. On the one hand, such a process requires the implementation of policies and measures aimed at savings and improvements in the use of electricity. On the other hand, the gradual substitution of fossil fuel primary energy sources is required. In this last case, several technologies can produce large amounts of electricity using renewable energy sources. The huge and free solar radiation plays a prominent role in this context.
Pere Mir-Artigues, Pablo del Río
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