David Eaglesham, chief technology officer at First Solar, says all photovoltaic companies are scrambling to make efficiency and cost improvements. But if Europe is to retain its leadership, decisions on a regulatory framework are crucial, he told EURACTIV in an interview.
Solar power could provide up to a quarter of the world's electricity needs by 2050 if countries put in place long-term policies to support early deployment and sustained technology innovation, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Europe's photovoltaic industry wants to focus more on generating and supplying electricity in the coming years, according to its new president, marking a shift from its current emphasis on technological development.
Solar panel manufacturers are fighting to be excluded from EU legislation restricting the use of dangerous chemicals in electronic products. But some voices are calling for greater scrutiny of the industry, illustrating a technology war between rival companies.
The global solar photovoltaic industry experienced strong growth in 2009, adding a record 6.4 gigawatts of new capacity despite the global downturn, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) said on Monday (30 March).
The Desertec project, which aims to power Europe with solar energy from the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, is to go truly international next month as five new companies from Spain, Italy, France, Morocco and Tunisia join the scheme.
Germany said yesterday (20 January) that it would cut its subsidies for solar power in line with the rapid take-up of the photovoltaic market. The news follows a similar announcement by France last week.
The EU – and Germany in particular – is an uncontested world leader in solar power. But the fledgling technology relies heavily on public money to bring down costs and with the economic turmoil EU countries are now having second thoughts about costly subsidy schemes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's majority for a new centre-right government means she can rewrite a national nuclear phaseout deal by allowing reactors to run longer than laid down by her predecessors.
Solar thermal heating experienced record growth rates worldwide in 2007, driven strongly by China. But the EU's new Renewable Energy Directive is expected to boost demand even further in Europe, a new report from the Worldwatch Institute argues.
Yesterday's (23 July) announcement by French electricity giant EDF that it will build the country's largest solar manufacturing plant signalled France's bid to become one of the world's leading solar markets.
The world's largest solar power project is taking shape as investors last week signed an agreement to establish financing plans for a mega plant to produce electricity for Europe in the Sahara. But critics described the deal as no more than a new and expensive form of energy colonialism.
"The EU and its North African partner countries should […] establish the regulatory basis necessary for the development of solar energy in view of offering a reliable and long-term framework for potential investors from both sides of the Mediterranean," writes Eberhard Rhein, a lecturer at the Mediterranean Academy for Diplomatic Studies in Malta, in a June post on Blogactiv.
Photovoltaic power (PV) could meet up to 12% of Europe's electricity demand by 2020 if a favourable policy framework were established to support it in the coming years, according to a new study by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
Half of the world's photovoltaic electricity is currently produced in the EU, but the European solar industry must continue its "impressive growth" to maintain its market position in the years to come, argues a study released by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) last week.
Massive solar power installations in the Sahara desert could feed the EU's growing energy demand via a new supergrid. The idea is backed by France and the UK, which is simultaneously trying to limit priority access for renewables to domestic grids.
Hawaii could serve as an example to the EU after it passed a bill requiring all new homes to have solar water heaters installed as of 2010. While some European cities and regions have already adopted similar measures, some want binding targets included in new EU legislation on promoting renewable energy.
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated that nanoparticles can increase the efficiency with which sunlight can be converted into electricity in thin-film photovoltaics, opening new prospects for solar electricity.
Administrative and technical barriers as well as excessive costs and delays present larger barriers to local electricity producers than the ownership structure of EU energy markets, according to experts who debated the issue in Brussels yesterday (13 September 2007).
Only city cars or other small vehicles used for short distances are likely to run on solar power by 2020, experts and policymakers agree. To reduce CO2 emissions, the car industry is instead focusing on innovation into solar-hybrid models, lighter materials and increased battery-storage capacity.
The solar industry is positioning itself as a key contributor to the 20% target for renewables in the EU's energy mix by 2020. But, despite impressive growth, solar's contribution is likely to be limited compared with wind, hydro and biomass.
With solar power currently accounting for a tiny share of renewable-energy production in Europe, manufacturers of photovoltaic panels are urging the Commission to ensure that specific targets are adopted in all member states.
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