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Topics of Renewables International issue 1/2011
North American market: With no national policy changes expected, the US market will continue to be driven by policies at the state level.
Fortunately, a lot is happening in a number of states. A recent decision by FERC declared that the feed-in tariffs behind the success stories in Europe and Ontario do not conflict with PURPA, which means the door is now wide open for FITs in the US. Unfortunately, Ontario may soon be added to the growing list of countries that slashed their solar FITs if conservative politicians make good on their word.
The wind industry has a new buzzword: smart blades. The rotors of onshore turbines are getting bigger, and the upcoming step into the ten-10 megawatt dimension makes them a real option. When turbine blades are much bigger than 60 meters, they may have to be actively steered through the air, much as modern technology is used in airplanes to influence the flow of air. We report about "flexible trailing edges" and other ideas.
When wind turbines learn to swim
Offshore wind turbines generate even more power, but few offshore areas are flat enough to make the installation of offshore turbines affordable. Floating wind turbines are to close that gap and make the industry independent of seafloor topology. The first projects have already succeeded, and more are to follow.
Thin film PV
In the lab, new modules made of copper, indium, gallium, and sulfur are proving to be very efficient - comparable to polysilicon. Now, gigantic production capacity is going up worldwide:
Solar Frontier in Japan, Sulfurcell in Europe, and Saint-Gobain
(Avancis) worldwide in cooperation with Hyundai. Manufacturers of silicon thin film are also reporting leaps in efficiency. And First Solar is ramping up its new plant in Germany. In 2011, thin film technology will dominate both innovations and prices.
China in your hand
European manufacturers of crystalline photovoltaics face fierce competition from China. Chinese cell manufacturer Suntech is now the world's largest maker of solar technology. Yingli, China Solar, Trina and Chaori are setting up gigantic production plants and aggressively entering markets in Asia and the US. Suntech already has a success story to show for itself - a giant solar farm in the southwestern United States close to the firm's first plant in the US. The Chinese home market is also growing.
UK discontinues certificates
The UK market is changing. In 2013, the compensation for renewable energy will be different, and green power certificates expire. Not everyone is happy about the changes.
Scotland on the move
By 2020, Scotland plans to get 80 percent of its power from renewables. Wind and ocean energy are to be the main sources, but infrastructure problems and red tape are obstacles towards the government's goals.
UK gets FIT
Since the UK adopted feed-in tariffs for small renewables generators, climate protection investments in the private and commercial sectors have boomed. But the cost of power from solar, wind, and biomass is high. The Energy Ministry has therefore made some cuts.
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