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Improving energy efficiency, using combined heat and power CHP plants and appropriate fuels in industries would help to overcome this problem. In addition, the development of renewable energies plays an important role in decreasing air pollution [ 34 , 35 ]. CO 2 emissions in Iran [ 19 ]. Several countries, including Japan and Germany, have pursued policies of renewable energy development in order to protect the environment [ 36 ]. Table 2. CO 2 emissions for various power generation technologies. As shown in Table 2 , by using PV power plants instead of conventional thermal power plants, Iran would be able to reduce CO 2 emissions by between 3.

In addition to the environmental concerns, this is more urgent as a result of recent international energy policies, which may subject countries to financial sanctions for excess CO 2 emissions. In addition to the factors mentioned above, which relate to energy policy, the social aspects of renewable energy development must also be considered [ 39 ].

Improving knowledge and awareness of renewable energies and their advantages will increase the social acceptance of these technologies, greatly facilitating their development. Wustenhagen et al. The process of solar energy technology development can be seen in Figure 14 [ 41 ]:. Chain of technology [ 41 ]. As can be seen in Figure 14 , industrial investment is crucial to the development of a particular technology. Technical development leads to improvements in the education system.

Human awareness and training experts will then improve human capacity, which in turn affects industrial investment due to higher demand for the technology. The cycle shows parameters which are effective in the technology development process. The Triple Helix approach illustrates the importance of government, academic institutions and the industrial sector to the capacity for innovation in a society [ 43 ]. It can be concluded that all three parameters play key roles in the development of new ideas and technologies.

Figure 15 illustrates the Triple Helix approach. The PV industry is underdeveloped in Iran. However, the searching on google has shown that there are four companies which are working on the design and manufacture of PV systems and related products. These companies are listed in Table 3. Table 3.

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Companies actively manufacturing PV systems in Iran. As mentioned above, most of these companies import PV modules and inverters, but have the capacity to manufacture batteries and support structures. If patents are taken as a marker of technological development, the number of patents filed by Iranian companies can be used to gauge the development of solar technology in Iran.

Patents have two sites of impact, based on their applicant and their assignee. Those patents filed by universities may be used to demonstrate government impact. On the other hand, private firms generally file patents to protect their products and increase their market share [ 44 , 45 ]. The figures for each country have been taken from the patent analysis website PatentInspiration. The number of patents published in each country is illustrated in Figure The number of patents published in China and Japan between and were 11 and 63 , respectively.

In contrast, only 11 patents were published in Iran from to China and Japan are the leading countries in both Asia and the world with regard to PV energy capacity. It has been shown that when technology firms start to determine their areas of specialization, the number of patents increases; subsequently, the technology life cycle will reach its mature level. At this level, the technology no longer undergoes major changes, aside from those to its appearance or other minor details. Financial benefits also start to become apparent at this stage. The ten terms that occur most frequently in patents from Japan, China and Iran are depicted in Figures 17 , 18 and 19 , respectively.

China and Japan exhibit similar patterns in their development of solar technology. On the other hand, as mentioned above, Iran relies on imports for many of its solar technology products and has only researched solar cell construction. The Iranian government is investigating the possibility of acquiring PV manufacturing technology. The most important point to consider is the purchasing of appropriate technology for PV manufacturing, which requires a comprehensive understanding of the PV global market [ 46 ].

Industries might have a variety of motivations for developing PV manufacturing, such as economic gain, policy and government support [ 47 ]. International experiences show that government support, through policies such as tax reduction, loans for renewable energy and feed-in tariffs for industries, play an important role in PV industry development [ 48 ]. However, there is no specific government support for the PV industry in Iran. In addition, there are few academic centers focusing on renewable energies; therefore, there is a lack of experts in the country who might contribute to the development of the industry.

A related problem is the lack of appropriate planning for the development of the PV industry, which inhibits its growth [ 49 ]. Universities can therefore help the industrial sector to achieve a higher level of success in the advancement of PV manufacturing. Universities have a significant role in knowledge development. A report from the World Economic Forum ranked Iran third in the number of annual graduates in engineering, manufacturing and construction majors, with graduates across the three fields per year [ 50 ].

This shows a high level of interest in engineering fields; however, there are few universities which specialize in renewable energies. The publication of academic research is the first stage in the emergence of a new technology. New ideas are first developed in the university library, then published in scientific papers. After a while, as the number of papers on a topic continues to increase, the related technology starts to emerge.

The numbers of scientific papers on PV energy published in Iran, China and Japan, taken from the Scopus abstract and citation database, 2 are presented in Figure The number of papers on PVs published in Iran from to was , while the same period saw 54 and 22 papers published in China and Japan, respectively. In his article, Toynbee likened science and technology to a pair of dancers, adding that it was often difficult to determine who was the leader, and who the follower [ 51 ].

The lead dancer might be said to be science, which is shaped by academic institutions, while technology, which is influenced by industry, might be described as the follower. The science index can be understood as the number of scientific papers published and, as mentioned above, the technology index relates to the number of patents published. New ideas emerge in the university laboratory or library, and are subsequently published in academic journals. Industrial companies, meanwhile, in order to remain on the cutting edge of technological development and thereby stay ahead in the technology race, have an interest in maintaining close links with universities to avoid losing out to their rivals.

The university therefore becomes the leading partner in the dance. Sharif University of Technology and Tehran University both have energy departments and carry out professional work in the area of renewable energy. These universities recruit students for postgraduate study of renewable energy systems. In addition, other institutions, such as the Institute of Materials and Energy MERC , conduct applied research in the field of energy, especially solar energy. Universities influence the social acceptance of solar energy by advancing scientific development and increasing knowledge [ 41 ].

In addition to fostering social awareness, universities are able to improve the efficiency of existing technologies, which leads to lower electricity production costs.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Universities play a role in the decision-making process as well as in research and development. However, the question remains of where the missing link in the chain lies in Iran. Universities have been working on solar energy for a long time, but the number of patents published remains very low.

Has the government been doing its part? Or is the social awareness of solar energy and its benefits too weak in Iran? Figure 21 illustrates the trend in Google searches by Iranian, Chinese and Japanese citizens from to The search terms for each country are chosen from their native languages. In , the Japanese Ministry of Economics, in association with other related agencies such as the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association, implemented an economic instrument policy.

We can make roof tiles with built-in solar cells – now the challenge is to make them cheaper

This policy provided grants and subsidies for any individual installation of a solar cell in the residential sector. This correlates with the fact that Google search interest in solar energy in Japan peaked in the same year. The interest of the Chinese public in solar energy shows a similar trend, albeit to a lesser extent.

The search behavior of Iranian citizens, however, forms a striking contrast. Both social media and the broadcasting industry in Iran are under government control.

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Since the promotion of renewable energies is a vital part of raising of social awareness in Iran, government neglect may be the missing element. The development of utility-scale PV installation is not possible without favorable government policies. A government can develop solar technologies in several ways. As mentioned above, government support and policy are key parameters in the development of the PV industry. Investment in the research and development of solar energy is another tool by which government can foster PV development and manufacturing. The main governmental organizations involved in the energy sector are the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Industry and Mining, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, the Ministry of Energy and the Department of Environment [ 49 ].

Of these, the Ministry of Energy has the most significant role in renewable energy development. SUNA is a part of the Energy Ministry, founded in with the aim of providing knowledge and expertise and developing new technologies in order to encourage the growth of the renewable energy sector. The organization is also responsible for studying existing research policy and preparing plans for the development of renewable energies in the country [ 14 ].

Moreover, SUNA guarantees the purchase of electricity generated from renewable sources, which provides an economic incentive for renewable energy development. SABA was established in order to improve the efficiency of the energy sector and conducts work in a number of related areas, such as the development of electricity generation, energy consumption management and the reduction of environmental pollution. The main tools used to achieve these goals are research, publication, scientific services and training.

For solar PV energy development, SABA works to improve the energy efficiency of PVs and to publicize the environmental benefits of solar power, which will lead to greater social acceptance and encourage policymakers to consider PVs for electricity generation. REIC was founded with the goal of providing infrastructures to develop research on renewable energies in Iranian universities.

REIC supports innovative studies in solar energy technology, such as the application of nanotechnology and the optimization of solar systems. A well-organized relationship between these three sectors—industry, universities and government—will be required for the success of plans for the development of solar power in Iran.

Of these parties, the government is arguably the most influential, since many industries and universities are dependent on government support. In addition, the government is responsible for enacting energy policy. In an attempt to summarize this study, the different areas that have been examined are shown in Figure There are many constraints on PV development in Iran, the most important of which is investment.

Attracting investment in renewable energy is crucial for making progress in the implementation of renewable energies, especially PV energy. In addition, it is necessary to organize those government bodies and organizations involved in PV energy to accelerate activities. Improving the coordination between government, industry and universities is also a vital step.