As more reliable data are released over last year’s photovoltaics installations figures, the picture of solar market’s growth is getting clearer. The latest information gathered from the World’s top markets have been summarised by EPIA (the European Photovoltaic Industry Association) in their recent publication, “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics Until 2015“. By all means, 2010 will be remembered as a triumphal period for the progress of solar power in the energy sector. Which countries led to such results, and is this exponential growth set to continue?
Italy's Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani
In a move that will shake the global PV industry like an earthquake, the Italian Government approved on 3rd March a long awaited Renewable Energy Decree that marks an unanticipated, early end to its incredible solar race. After months of intense negotiations with Parliament and Industry representatives that seemed to have reached positive results, the Italian Minister for Economic Development, Paolo Romani, presented a final, “surprise” version of the Decree that will set the new standards for all future renewable energy incentives. The Decree was due to address Italy’s path to its EU 2020 renewable energy targets (17% of primary energy consumption and 30% of electricity from renewables). The result? All that had been discussed until now is no more valid, and the deadliest blow goes to solar power, effective immediately.
Photo: Enrico Matteucci on Flickr
Just a few days ago I was about to start an article on the fast-rising pace of the Italian solar market, based on the available data from GSE (the Italian Government’s Energy Agency). I was to comment on what I thought would be a banner year, with total installations for almost 3,000 MWs, over four times the previous year’s levels (718 MWs in 2009), with a total installed capacity now touching 4,000 MWs. My figures were wrong.
The Gestore Servizi Energetici (GSE) has now issued an updated press release with their latest forecasts on photovoltaic power installed capacity in Italy at end of 2010. It is now anticipated that cumulative installed capacity should be around 3,000 MWs with over 150,000 plants producing electricity throughout the country. This would mean an increase of 1.850 MWs for 2010, or 160% more than 2009. There is a catch though: given the skyrocketing demand for grid connection of new PV plants, the Italian government decided last year to warrant 2010-level incentives to all PV plants built within 2010, but not yet connected (such is the backlog of requests to the national grid), with a connection deadline of 30 June 2011. Well, on this side GSE received requests for additional 55,000 PV plants totalling an astonishing further 4,000 MWs. This means that total capacity at end of 2010 is around 7,000 MWs, up from just 1142 MWs twelve months before.
Photo: Paolo Margari on Flickr
Most people will be surprised, but Italy was the first country in the world to build motorways. In fact, the A8 “Milano-Laghi” motorway (“Milan-Lakes”, as it connects the city of Milan to Lake Como and Maggiore) was completed in 1926. Time has passed and all developed nations now boast wide motorway networks, a strategic infrastructure that helps interconnecting people, places and is ultimately essential to economic growth. But Italy will soon be able to claim a new “first”: the A18 Catania-Siracusa motorway, a 30km addition to Sicily’s 600km motorway network, will be a fully solar-powered motorway, the first in its kind.
The AK1000 tidal turbine (Photo: Atlantis Resources Corporation).
On 24th August, Atlantis Resources Corporation successfully deployed its brand new AK1000 tidal turbine – the world’s largest rotor diameter tidal turbine – on its subsea berth, under 35 meters of water at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland.
The turbine was unveiled two weeks before in Invergordon, an event attended by officials and dignitaries from seven different countries. After the unveiling, Atlantis mobilised the 22.5 meter tall, 1300-ton structure on to the DOF vessel, to be taken to Orkney. It took just seven days to install the gravity base structure, over 1000 tons of ballast blocks, finally topped up with the turbine body, complete with its twin set of 18 meter diameter rotors.
Electric cars will drive over 500 miles on a single charge by 2020. These are the insightful projections of Martin Eberhard, electric vehicle engineering Director at Volkswagen’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Palo Alto, California.
Mr Eberhard, who joined VW in early 2009, co-founded the Tesla electric sports car company in July 2003, and was ousted from control of the company in 2007. In an interview with british magazine Autocar about the future of electric vehicles (EVs) and VW’s strategy, he provides very interesting updates on the stage of development of the industry.
A very interesting and controversial study emerged recently, comparing nuclear and solar costs no less.
The study, “Solar and Nuclear Costs – The Historic Crossover“, was prepared by John O. Blackburn and Sam Cunningham for NC Warn, a climate change nonprofit watchdog. The paper, focused on the costs of electricity in North Carolina (US), describes the solar photovoltaics (PV) business, summarising its history of sharply declining prices, along with the very different path taken in recent years by nuclear power, whose costs have been steadily rising.
Satellite image courtesy of Prof. Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware.
The biggest block of arctic freshwater ice since 1962 has broken off Petermann glacier, in Greenland. Andreas Muenchow, a researcher from University of Delaware, reported that an “ice island” four times the size of Manhattan was born in the early morning hours of 5 August 2010.
The huge block, with a surface of at least 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) and a thickness up to half the height of the Empire State Building (reaching 443m high with its antenna), is now afloat in the high latitude waters off Greenland’s North-western coast. Satellite imagery of this remote area, about 620 miles (1,000 km) south of the North Pole, reveals that Petermann Glacier lost a staggering one-quarter of its 43-mile long (70 km) floating ice-shelf. Petermann Glacier is one of the two largest remaining glaciers in Greenland that terminate in floating shelves. The glacier connects the great Greenland ice sheet directly with the ocean. Continue reading
Photo: Barbara Doduk on Flickr
All hail oil!
Make no mistake, whatever progress humanity has managed to pull in the last 50 years or so is due to the abundance and widespread availability of black gold. No such things as mass transport, building, Information Technology, medicine, agriculture and so on would have developed in the way they have, if not thanks to oil and its derivates. Renewable energy itself wouldn’t haven’t gone this far, without the oil-driven staggering pace of human technological development.
World population has since increased exponentially. Modern human growth was first triggered by coal during the Industrial Revolution, but oil has pushed this trend to the next level. An energy-dense and easy-to-transport liquid, oil boasts those unique features that have empowered mankind to the point of radically reshaping our territories, as well as our culture. A once vast and unexplored universe, Earth has been easily conquered to our needs and pleasures. Human genius has achieved in 50 years what it didn’t in the previous 200,000 years, when humans made their first steps on our planet. Continue reading
Tony Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of BP is to be replaced by Bob Dudley, the U.S. executive managing the company’s response to the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I believe that it is not possible for the company to move on in the United States with me remaining as the face to BP,” Hayward told reporters on a conference call. “So I think that for the good of BP, and particularly for the good of BP in the United States, it is right for me to… step down.”
In a move aimed at softening U.S. criticism towards the British company, Mr Hayward, 52, is expected to negotiate a leaving package under basic contractual terms. That means one-year’s pay of £1m and a pension pot of more than £10m, capable of paying out more than £500,000 a year when Hayward reaches 60. The change of face was confirmed upon announcement by BP of one of the largest losses in British corporate history because of the cost of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.