To meet the target set by the Paris agreement in 2015 to keep the Earth average temperature rise to less than 2 °C (or even 1.5 °C), the best choice is to transition the energy economy to 100% renewable energy using solar photovoltaic energy (PV), playing a central role along with wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass energy, to power directly or indirectly all sectors of the economy. The development of a large global energy storage capacity and the production of green hydrogen or other synthetic fuels by renewable energy will be critical. The estimated needed global PV generating capacity will be about 70 TW by 2050. The PV industry needs to rapidly grow its production capacity to about 3 TW p.a. to reach this objective. The industry has demonstrated that it is capable to grow at a very high rate and to continuously reduce the cost of manufacturing. There are no challenges related to the technology, manufacturing cost, or sustainability, except for the consumption of silver, which needs to be reduced by at least a factor of 4, and the recycling of material used in the PV system, which needs to be dramatically improved. The deployment of PV systems must be accelerated to reach a fast growth (>25%) until at least 2032 to avoid a major market downturn in 2050.

1.
L. E.
Edwards
, “
What is the Anthropocene?
,”
Eos
96
,
6
7
(
2015
).
2.
H.
Ritchie
and
M.
Roser
, “
CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions
” (
2017
), available at https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions.
3.
G.
Luderer
,
Z.
Vrontisi
,
C.
Bertram
 et al, “
Residual fossil CO2 emissions in 1.5–2 °C pathways
,”
Nat. Clim. Change
8
,
626
633
(
2018
).
4.
F.
Pearce
and
J.
Rockstroem
, “
The changes could be abrupt and irreversible. We don't know where things may end up
,”
New Sci.
243
(
3247
),
39
41
(
2019
).
5.
N. M.
Haegel
 et al, “
Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Transform global energy
,”
Science
364
(
6443
),
836
838
(
2019
).
6.
C.
Breyer
 et al, “
On the role of solar photovoltaic in global energy transition scenarios
,”
Prog. Photovoltaics
25
(
8
),
727
745
(
2017
).
7.
See https://www.infolink-group.com/en/solar/spot-price for information of spot price for silicon feedstock, wafers, solar cells, and PV panels (last accessed June 29,
2020
).
8.
Y. F.
Chen
 et al, “
From laboratory to production: Learning models of efficiency and manufacturing cost of industrial crystalline silicon and thin-film photovoltaic technologies
,”
IEEE J. Photovoltaics
8
,
1531
1538
(
2018
).
9.
M.
Green
 et al, “
Solar cell efficiency tables (Version 55)
,”
Prog. Photovoltaics
28
,
3
15
(
2020
).
10.
V.
Fthenakis
, “
Lifecycle assessment of photovoltaics
,” in
Photovoltaic Solar Energy, from Fundamentals to Applications
, edited by
A.
Reinders
(
Wiley
,
Chichester, UK
,
2017
).
11.
Y. F.
Chen
, personal communication (August 1,
2019
).
12.
G. M.
Wilson
 et al, “
The 2020 photovoltaic technologies roadmap
,”
J. Phys. D
53
,
493001
(
2020
).
You do not currently have access to this content.