Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Solar energy: Europe aims to lead the world in Photovoltaic technologies

04.12.2003


The recently created “Photovoltaics Technology Research Advisory Council” will meet for the first time on 4 December 2003 in Brussels. The initiative of the European Commission involves 18 members representing all the major players in this technology.



Europe is now the world’s second largest manufacturer of photovoltaics, accounting for more than 24% of overall production, behind Japan (44%) and ahead of the USA (22%). Current forecasts show large potential for solar electricity production, for which Europe has seen an average growth rate of 30% per year over the last decade. Nevertheless, photovoltaics are currently under-utilised in the European Union, despite the active support of the Commission for research, development and demonstration projects in this area, with over €200million of funding for almost 200 projects over the last 10 years. To find the best way forward, the Advisory Council’s objective is to develop a Foresight Report and a Strategic Research Agenda, in order to address the remaining barriers to maximising the potential of this clean energy source.

“I see the establishment of the Photovoltaic Technology Research Advisory Council as a catalyst for creating a common European vision and a strategic research agenda,” says European Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin. “So far, electricity produced from photovoltaic technology represents only a very small part of the total electricity generated in the Union. This contribution will remain static unless more ambitious measures are taken. We need to consider how we can overcome the technical, legal and socio-economic obstacles to increase the uptake of this sustainable energy system, which will create a winning situation for Europe’s industry, as well as for Europe’s society.”


What are photovoltaics?

Photovoltaics (PV) literally means "light-electricity”; "Photo" coming from the Greek "phos", meaning "light", and "Volt", from the Italian scientist Alessandro Volta, a pioneer in the study of electricity. This technology, originally developed for space applications in the 1960s, has many advantages: it is clean and easy to maintain, can be installed almost anywhere and is easily adapted to suit the customer’s needs. The electricity produced can be used either directly or fed into an existing electricity grid.

Overcoming barriers

Despite all its advantages, PV is not yet fully competitive, as it is still expensive compared to other forms of electricity generation. However, as a result of ongoing research and continuous improvement, costs are falling. Although the contribution today is still modest, the potential share for PV power supply is much greater.

The objective of the Commission White Paper on the promotion of Renewable Energies is to increase the installed generating capacity of PV in the Union to 3GW by 2010. If this goal is to be achieved, then commitment is needed to overcome the remaining technical and non-technical barriers. But technical developments alone are not sufficient. They should be accompanied by socio-economic research related to wider public awareness and acceptance, training programmes for installers and, last but not least, harmonisation of European codes and standards.

Japanese dominance

Figure 2 (see annex) shows the World PV production volume by manufacturer and the dominance of Japanese companies is clear. Sharp (Japan) showed a massive growth in production from 2001 to 2002 (a growth of 64.0%) while three Japanese companies, Sharp, Kyocera and Sanyo Electric, make up the top five along with the international groups, BP Solar, and Siemens and Shell. However, it is important to note that Isofoton (Spain) also had a solid increase in production from 2001 to 2002 (51.8%), and that three European manufacturers (Isofoton, RWE Solar group and Photowatt) also made it into the top ten.

The European Solar League

Among current member states (EU 15), Figure 3 demonstrates how Germany leads the solar league in terms of solar energy production. In second place is the Netherlands, though their output is dramatically lower than Germany, followed closely by Italy, Spain and France to create the EU top five. The results of Figure 3 show that, if installation continues at a rate of 30% per year, then we are on track to meet the target of 3GW by 2010. But every effort must be made to realise the potential of PV installation in order to achieve this goal.

Julia Acevedo | alfa

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Fraunhofer Researchers Develop High-Pressure Sensors for Extreme Temperature
28.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration IZM

nachricht Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon
27.06.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>