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Photovoltaic Summer!

By Colin Ricketts - 30 Jul 2013 10:42:56 GMT
Photovoltaic Summer!

This field of photovoltaics in Germany represents part of the massive German investment within the renewable energy sector; PV image Credit: Shutterstock

When the sun shines and the wind blows, it sees some areas can easily fulfil their potential energy. Renewable energy around the British Isles and other more or less oceanic regions seems to be having a good year. While Germany is among the most advanced in getting down to building larger structures, on many brownfield sites, the sun came out for many parts of Europe. While the short-term is immaterial for most purposes, if we can't boast about renewables in the summer, then consumers may think they can't produce the energy required. Wind energy can now produce nearly 10,000MWh in the UK in a day, compared to the 16,000MWh that PV cells produced on one sunny day last week. That's from 450,000 solar roofs on individual houses, mainly. The German Republic managed 40% of its daily need (daytime hours only) on 7th July, while all of that UK effort managed a mere 6% on the same day. Alan Simpson has been fact-finding on German credentials for the solar industry. In his opinion, "Germany is now "light years" ahead of the UK and benefitting. Within a decade, many German towns and cities could be substantially 'off-grid' and will be taking the grid system out of the hands of the private energy companies."

For the UK, the sunshine this year is a record July offering, although obviously the figures have yet to be finalised. Perhaps the south-facing PV cells they have will soon become more efficient, so that west or even east facing rays can be used to spread the capture throughout the day, just as Germany is planning west-facing installations. Several ways of tracking the sun have been established now in various locations. Many solar power plants are built in Europe by Belectric, whose chief executive reports that they have parity in generation costs with conventional power stations. The difference is there are no emissions!