Terawatt-Scale Photovoltaics: Transform Global Energy

Nancy Haegel, Teresa Barnes, Anthony Burrell, David Feldman, Benjamin Kroposki, Sarah Kurtz, Robert Margolis, Wyatt Metzger, William Tumas, Jao Van De Lagemaat, Emily Warren, Mary Werner, Harry Jr., Christian Breyer, Yet-Ming Chiang, Stefaan Wolf, Bernhard Dimmler, Stefan Glunz, Jan Goldschmidt, David HochschildRuben Inzunza, Izumi Kaizuka, Sylvere Leu, Koji Matsubara, Axel Metz, Mahesh Morjaria, Shigeru Niki, Stefan Nowak, Ian Peters, Simon Philipps, Thomas Reindl, Andre Richter, Doug Rose, Keiichiro Sakurai, Rutger Schlatmann, Masahiro Shikano, Wim Sinke, Ron Sinton, BJ Stanbery, Marko Topic, Yuzuru Ueda, Pierre Verlinden, Matthias Vetter, Masafumi Yamaguchi, Andreas Bett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

317 Scopus Citations


Solar energy has the potential to play a central role in the future global energy system because of the scale of the solar resource, its predictability, and its ubiquitous nature. Global installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity exceeded 500 GW at the end of 2018, and an estimated additional 500 GW of PV capacity is projected to be installed by 2022-2023, bringing us into the era of TW-scale PV. Given the speed of change in the PV industry, both in terms of continued dramatic cost decreases and manufacturing-scale increases, the growth toward TW-scale PV has caught many observers, including many of us (1), by surprise. Two years ago, we focused on the challenges of achieving 3 to 10 TW of PV by 2030. Here, we envision a future with ~10 TW of PV by 2030 and 30 to 70 TW by 2050, providing a majority of global energy. PV would be not just a key contributor to electricity generation but also a central contributor to all segments of the global energy system. We discuss ramifications and challenges for complementary technologies (e.g., energy storage, power to gas/liquid fuels/chemicals, grid integration, and multiple sector electrification) and summarize what is needed in research in PV performance, reliability, manufacturing, and recycling.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)836-838
Number of pages3
Issue number6443
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-72778


  • capacity
  • photovoltaics
  • terawatt


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