Photovoltaics is a science that examines light-electricity conversion. Conversion of solar energy carried by photons is transformed by solar cells into direct-current electrical energy. Interest in the use of photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies is growing rapidly, as it will permit the direct production of electricity from solar radiation without any harmful emissions or noise. Rising energy costs, the finite nature of fossil fuels and worries about climate change has renewed interest in making the benefits of PV technology more affordable and readily available.
The European Commission, through the Renewable Energies Unit of DG JRC’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability, is the scientific co-ordinator of a Thematic Network “Photovoltaic Network for the Development of a Roadmap for PV (PVNET). This network brings together representatives of relevant research and development (R&D) and production areas in photovoltaics. Their main task is to stimulate communication within the whole PV community by organising expert meetings, workshops and symposia, and disseminating the information gathered therein. The Workshop on European RTD Strategies for Photovoltaics, held on 30 & 31 May, in Ispra, Italy, was such a gathering. This Thematic Network is being carried out in the framework of the specific research and technological development programme "Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development" within the 5th Framework Programme funded by the European Commission. The project started in December 2001 and will last for two years.
PVNET aims to foster collaboration among European industry and the scientific community and to draw a Roadmap for European PV research and development (R&D). This will lead to an increase of both competitiveness and vitality in the European PV industry, through the formation of a comprehensive strategy for research, marketing, products, human resources and development by formulating a viable strategy for directing the future of European RTD in photovoltaics. The world market for PV has grown rapidly over the past several years, at about 25 % annually. It has grown even higher (38%) in the last five years. The average market growth of PV is compared to the growth of the microelectronics market in its early stage of development. It reflects very strong growth in virtually all PV markets such as telecommunications, remote power, utilities and agriculture as well as in building integrated grid-connected. The workshop organised at the Ispra site had the following aims:
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