The centralized model of power generation, transmission and distribution is growing more and more costly to maintain at current levels, let alone to expand in order to meet the rising electricity needs of growing populations, according to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant's Energy Practice.
Renewable distributed energy generation sources such as distributed solar PV, small wind power and stationary fuel cells, which have less need for transmission and little to no emissions, are uniquely positioned to disrupt this traditional paradigm.
Distributed renewable installations today represent far less than 1% of total worldwide electricity generating capacity, but they will expand rapidly over the next half-decade, the report predicts.
Annual worldwide installations of renewable distributed generation will nearly triple between 2012 and 2017, reaching 63.5 GW annually in 2017. Nearly 232 GW of distributed renewable energy will be added over that five-year period.
‘In a growing number of cases around the world, renewable distributed generation technologies are more cost-effective than centralized installations that require transmission to population centers,’ says research analyst Dexter Gauntlett. ‘In many ways, momentum is shifting to distributed renewable sources that give consumers more control over the electricity they consume and generate.
‘But in order to reach its full potential, the renewable distributed energy sector will require continued innovation in business models, technology development, utility participation and investment in an uncertain economic climate,’ Gauntlett adds.
The large majority of new installations will be solar photovoltaics, as solar PV manufacturers have delivered on their promise to drive down costs and scale up production, Pike Research says. Worldwide solar PV module production capacity reached an estimated 50 GW by the end of 2011, and module costs dropped from roughly $4.00/W in 2006 to $1.00/W in 2011.
New solar PV additions will total 210 GW from 2012 to 2017, the report predicts.