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Photovoltaic (PV) electricity is the renewable energy technology with the largest scope for cost reduction and efficiency gains. It is expected to make a significant contribution to achieving EU's goals for a low carbon energy system. JRC activities include:

European Solar Test Installation

As a European reference laboratory for PV calibration accredited to ISO/IEC 17025, ESTI validates electrical performance and assesses lifetime of PV devices, including those based on emerging technologies. ESTI also performs pre-normative research to develop and improve traceable, accurate measurement techniques.

Photovoltaic Geographical Information System

PVGIS is a freely available multilanguage web service that provides detailed information on both the solar energy resource and the potential electricity output of PV technologies in Europe, Africa, most of the Americas and part of Asia. It also provides typical meteorological year dataset for a given geographical location.

Technology and market assessment

The PV sector has been growing rapidly – globally production has increased by approximately 50% per year over the last five years. The JRC's annual PV Status Report gives an overview of current trends in manufacturing, installations and markets. JRC also supports and produces the PV electricity price maps, which combine a standard model for levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) with the geographically dependent PV performance data from its PVGIS software system. The calculated LCOE values are then compared with the retail electricity prices in the Member States.

Contribution to Standards

ESTI has a Type “A” Liaison with the International Electrotechnical Commission and contributes extensively to Technical Committee 82 (photovoltaics). For Cenelec, ESTI staff act as the Commission’s technical representative (non-voting) to the committees dealing with European norms for photovoltaics. ESTI covers the convenor role of both IEC and CELENEC working groups on PV.

In-House R&D

As part of the JRC’s institutional work programme, JRC staff address issues such as power calibration standards for thin-film PV, concentrated PV, organic PV and other emerging products; extension of life-time up to 40 years and standard procedures for rating energy output.

European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference EU PVSEC

The European Commission established the first of these conferences in 1981 (held in Stresa, Italy) to coincide with the launch of the "European PV Pilot Programme". Since 1996 the JRC supports the Conference by providing the scientific programme coordination and EU PVSEC is now one of the premiere PV conferences globally, attracting over 1000 papers and about 3000 participants each year.
Solar panels
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Solar panels

Clear skies over western Europe and the Mediterranean area would allow to step up photovoltaic energy production.

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