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 Researchers measure near-perfect performance in low-cost semiconductors
18.03.2019 | Stanford University

nachricht Robot arms with the flexibility of an elephant’s trunk
18.03.2019 | Universität des Saarlandes

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: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>