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Sunny outlook for solar industry

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Munich, Germany (UPI) Jun 11, 2010
The world's biggest solar energy fair is under way in Munich, as growth continues to dominate the sector despite a reduction in government subsidies across Europe.

France, Italy and Germany have reduced their feed-in-tariffs recently, leading to a flurry of short-term installations and worrisome statements by officials from the solar industry.

The public outcry was loud but, in general, the industry likely won't suffer much: While growth in Europe may slow down, new markets are emerging in the United States, India and China.

The German solar energy industry in 2009 created more than 60,000 new jobs, banking on sales of nearly $13 billion and new installations of 3.8 gigawatts, pushing the overall capacity of nearly 10 GW.

Once dubbed an alternative energy sources, solar power has moved into the mainstream.

The International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog that has often been viewed as a protector of Western oil interests, last month said that solar energy could account for up to one-quarter of the world's electricity by 2050.

Photovoltaic cell technology and concentrating solar power together could generate 9,000 terawatt hours of power in 2050 -- almost one-quarter of global demand, the agency said in May upon publishing two new analyses on the solar power market. While PV panels directly convert the sunshine into electricity, CSP plants use the sun's rays to boil water and drive a turbine.

This is showing at Intersolar in Munich. The world's biggest solar energy fair in 2010 grew by 33 percent to around 1,800 exhibitors from all over the world.

Companies showed off their latest technological advancements: Solarion from Germany claims it produces the world's thinnest solar cells -- they're 30 micrometers (0.0012 inch) thin, very light and unbreakable, said Alexander Braun from Solarion. Solarworld from Germany, which also produces in the United States and Asia, unveiled a carport with a roof made up of solar modules.

Meanwhile, Intersolar presented its Intersolar Award in three categories, namely PV, CSP and PV production technology.

Swiss company ABB Schweiz won the PV award for a process system designed to ensure that unaffected strings continue to function normally and deliver yield in the event of a partial failure in a photovoltaic installation. FSAVE Solartechnik took the CSP title for its Flexsave heat buffer storage tank designed to easily accommodate existing residential buildings.

Finally, in the PV production technology category, Festo of Germany, got an award for its extremely fast-handling system, the High Speed H-Portal. The combination of a flat construction and low moving mass provides dynamics in the smallest possible space, thereby saving both energy and resources, Intersolar said.

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Swiss wins million-dollar prize for low-cost solar cells
Helsinki (AFP) June 9, 2010
A Swiss professor who developed a low-cost solar power cell using cheap materials such as dye squeezed from berries won a million-dollar technology prize in Finland on Wednesday. Michael Graetzel, 66, won the Millennium Technology award for process of "artificial photosynthesis" to capture the sun's energy without need for an elaborate manufacturing process. The so-called "Graetzel's cel ... read more

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