Futuribles Journal n° 425

Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement - Territoires, réseaux

Photovoltaic Solar Power in the Digital Age: A Scenario on Renewable Energies at the Heart of Ecological Transition


We have moved into a new industrial era characterized by a very marked interweaving of manufactured products, services and digital technology that profoundly alters companies’ business models. Companies now have to get very close to their users to be able to create value. In this new context, Nathalie Popiolek looks at the specific case of the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry and examines a scenario in which that industry might adapt itself to this revolution by playing the energy transition card and the digital card simultaneously.

After outlining the particularities of the PV industry and the particular place of the active consumer in the currently developing “hyperindustrial” economy, she stresses the possibilities opened up at the political, technological, economic and social levels by the implementation of the energy and electric transitions. After reminding us of the changes under way among electricity generators, who are stepping up their activity in services and digital technology and the prospects that flow from this (these changes affect not only the end consumer, but the entire value chain), Popiolek examines the specific case of the photovoltaic industry and the possible establishment of a PV-based, highly decentralized “virtuous system of collective self-use”. She stresses, alongside the necessary legislative incentives, the key role of digital technology in this (digital interfaces, the Internet of Things, blockchain etc.) and the emergence of promising projects of “electricity harvesting” (in which the consumer can also become an electricity producer). The analysis proposed here shows that a change of economic model, compatible with the energy transition, is possible in this sector, provided that the political and industrial actors make the right choices.

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