The ability to transform the energy of the sun into electricity has already changed energy markets around the world. Last year more than 90 gigawatts of solar power were installed globally — equivalent to the energy generating capacity of Turkey. However, researchers believe that in coming years solar power could become even more efficient and cheaper than it is now. While most solar cells today are made from silicon, a key area to watch is the development of new materials for solar cells. One of the most promising of these is a family of crystals known as perovskites (named after the Russian geologist Lev Perovski). Certain perovskites are very good at absorbing light, and have been shown to have a power conversion efficiency of 22 per cent, on par with traditional silicon cells.
FT 8th Jan 2018 read more »
Thieves in China have vandalised a newly opened solar highway, less than a week after the road was christened with much fanfare. The one-kilometre stretch of road in the eastern city of Jinan consists of solar panels under a layer of transparent concrete, allowing cars to drive over the photovoltaic cells. But just five days after it opened on 28 December, workers found a 1.8-metre section had been removed by thieves. Reports of the heist did not emerge until this week.
Guardian 9th Jan 2018 read more »
In the mid-2000’s, to comply with the European Commission’s objectives under Directive 2001/77/EC, many EU nations legislated to encourage foreign investors to establish renewable power generation capacity. In countries such as Spain and Italy, the focus was on solar power. These programmes offered such incentives as specified feed-in tariffs for lengthy periods and no limits on energy generation or distribution. With the global financial crisis, such schemes became unbearably costly and many EU states amended or repealed those incentives. That undermined or even destroyed the profitability of investors’ schemes which had gone ahead on the basis of the existing legislative frameworks. Consequently, many investors brought arbitration claims under the Energy Charter Treaty (“ECT”), which protects foreign investments in the energy sector of signatory states from actions such as expropriation and unfair treatment. Decisions in those claims started to be made in 2016 and more awards were made in 2017. In part one of this article we explain how one of this year’s arbitration awards might have given investors a new hope.
Energy Voice 9th Jan 2018 read more »
The world’s first 100% solar-powered train is now gliding down tracks in Byron Bay, Australia. The Byron Bay Railroad Company refurbished a three-kilometer, or almost two-mile, stretch of tracks and restored a heritage train, outfitting it with a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar array with flexible solar panels. A limited service launched over the weekend, with full service set to commence in January.
Inhabitat 18th Dec 2017 read more »