The top 50 CEOs from Europe's photovoltaic industry say PV energy can step up to provide 12% of European electricity demand by 2020.
The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (PHIA) agreed to set the target at its conference in Valencia last week, where more than 4000 scientists and 750 companies gathered to present major innovations in solar photovoltaic energy.
Technological advances in solar photovoltaic energy has been faster than EPIA previously estimated and this and rising energy prices contributed to EPIA revising its energy target.
'Competitiveness with retail electricity prices will be achieved earlier than expected in major energy markets' said a spokesman for EPIA, which has more than 170 members from the solar electricity sector and represents 95% of the European photovoltaic industry.
A spokesman for EPIA said 'Industry is committed to increasing investment to accelerate cost reductions provided that appropriate political support is ensured in the individual member states, in harmony with the European framework, until competitiveness is reached'.
EPIA says 'grid parity' (competitiveness with retail electricity prices) will be reached from 2010 onwards in several European markets. Countries with the highest solar irradiation and higher electricity prices, such as Italy and Spain have the potential to reach grid parity starting in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Grid parity will be reached in Germany in 2015 and in most other EU countries up until 2020.
Grid parity means that, for consumers, photovoltaic electricity will be cheaper than the expected retail electricity price.
The industry said it is committed to increasing investment to speed up cost reductions, provided that the 'appropriate political framework is in place'
The industry wants:
1) Priority access to the grid
2) Appropriate feed-in tariffs bridging the period until grid parity is reached
3) Less red tape
4) Implementation of the Strategic Energy Technology plan (SET Plan) at European level to boost R&D and deployment efforts.
EPIA plans to consult with other renewable technologies meet the target of 20% of Europe's energy needs being met by renewables by 2020.
Ernesto Macías, EPIA President and communication general manager at Isofoton, is calling for 'common efforts of the photovoltaic sector to make this technology a real solution to the global energy challenge'.
'Clearly the UK has a real opportunity to use photovoltaic solar technology to reach its European targets if the proper legislative support is provided' said Andrew Cooper of the Renewable Energy Association.
The Renewable Energy Association is sponsoring an amendment to the Energy Bill that would provide a production tariff to support the growth in renewable electricity and heat. The same principle has been used to grow the solar photovoltaic industries in a number of European Countries including Germany, Spain and Italy.
Cooper added 'Of course the real advantage of people using renewables to generate their own electricity and heat is that they will have a real stake in the government achieving its renewable energy targets'.