Solar News Archive - Oktober 2006

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate change: Delaying action will take us into dangerous territory

The most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change was published on October 30th 2006. The Review, which reports to the British Prime Minister and Chancellor, was commissioned by the Chancellor in July last year. It has been carried out by Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economic Service and former World Bank Chief Economist. "The conclusion of the Review is essentially optimistic. There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we act now and act internationally. Governments, businesses and individuals all need to work together to respond to the challenge. Strong, deliberate policy choices by governments are essential to motivate change", Sir Nicholas said. .

Stern Review on the Economics of Climate change: Delaying action will take us into dangerous territory "But the task is urgent. Delaying action, even by a decade or two, will take us into dangerous territory. We must not let this window of opportunity close", Sir Nicholas added. Sir Nicholas Stern is Head of the Government Economic Service, and Adviser to the UK Government on the Economics of Climate Change and Development. He is a former Chief Economist of the World Bank. Picture source: United Kingdom's economics and finance ministry.

Unabated climate change risks raising average temperatures by over 5° C from pre-industrial levels

The first half of the Review focuses on the impacts and risks arising from uncontrolled climate change, and on the costs and opportunities associated with action to tackle it. A sound understanding of the economics of risk is critical here. The Review emphasises that economic models over timescales of centuries do not offer precise forecasts - but they are an important way to illustrate the scale of effects we might see. The Review finds that all countries will be affected by climate change, but it is the poorest countries that will suffer earliest and most. Unabated climate change risks raising average temperatures by over 5° C from pre-industrial levels. Such changes would transform the physical geography of our planet, as well as the human geography - how and where we live our lives.

Dangers of climate change could be equivalent to 20 % of GDP - the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be limited to around 1 % of global GDP

Adding up the costs of a narrow range of the effects, based on the assessment of the science carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001, the Review calculates that the dangers of unabated climate change would be equivalent to at least 5 % of GDP each year. The Review goes on to consider more recent scientific evidence (for example, of the risks that greenhouse gases will be released naturally as the permafrost melts), the economic effects on human life and the environment, and approaches to modelling that ensure the impacts that affect poor people are weighted appropriately. Taking these together, the Review estimates that the dangers could be equivalent to 20 % of GDP or more. In contrast, the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around 1 % of global GDP each year. People would pay a little more for carbon-intensive goods, but our economies could continue to grow strongly.

Reducing emissions will make us better off

If we take no action to control emissions, each tonne of CO2 that we emit now is causing damage worth at least $ 85 – but these costs are not included when investors and consumers make decisions about how to spend their money. Emerging schemes that allow people to trade reductions in CO2 have demonstrated that there are many opportunities to cut emissions for less than $ 25 a tonne. In other words, reducing emissions will make us better off. According to one measure, the benefits over time of actions to shift the world onto a low-carbon path could be in the order of $ 2.5 trillion each year. The shift to a low-carbon economy will also bring huge opportunities. Markets for low-carbon technologies will be worth at least $ 500bn, and perhaps much more, by 2050 if the world acts on the scale required.

Climate change: the greatest market failure the world has seen

The second half of the Review examines the national and international policy challenges of moving to a low-carbon global economy. Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has seen. Three elements of policy are required for an effective response. The first is carbon pricing, through taxation, emissions trading or regulation, so that people are faced with the full social costs of their actions. The aim should be to build a common global carbon price across countries and sectors. The second is technology policy, to drive the development and deployment at scale of a range of low-carbon and high-efficiency products. And the third is action to remove barriers to energy efficiency, and to inform, educate and persuade individuals about what they can do to respond to climate change. Fostering a shared understanding of the nature of climate change, and its consequences, is critical in shaping behaviour, as well as in underpinning both national and international action. Effective action requires a global policy response, guided by a common international understanding of the long-term goals for climate policy and strong frameworks for co-operation.

The Stern Review can be downloaded at Background on the Review, including the terms of reference and responses to the Call for Evidence, can also be found there.

United Kingdom's economics and finance ministry. (10/31/2006)


Suntech announces 5-Year Silicon Wafer Purchase Agreement with REC

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (WUXI, China) manufacturer of photovoltaic cells and modules, on October 25th announced that it has entered into a $ 180 million agreement with Renewable Energy Corporation ASA (REC; Norway), manufacturer of multicrystalline silicon wafers for solar applications, to purchase silicon wafers over a 5-year period. Sumitomo Corporation (Japan) is going to act as REC’s commercial representative for the deal, Suntech Power reports in a press release. "This agreement with REC and Sumitomo, together with our other long-term supply agreements, will enable Suntech to further reduce spot market purchases of raw materials and improve our cost competitiveness in the future", said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech’s chairman and CEO. "This agreement also enhances our strategic relationships with the world leading silicon and wafer manufacturers. Suntech will continue to pursue our goals to expand our market share and focus on our ongoing initiatives to make production and technological improvements to our cell and module products", Dr. Shi continues.

The 5-year agreement is structured as a take-or-pay contract with a pre-determined fixed price that decreases on an annual basis. This price reduction curve shall provide Suntech with wafers with an average cost measurably below spot market prices. The delivery of wafers under the contract is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2007. "This is the fourth long term agreement on wafers that REC has entered into since summer this year. Suntech, which is one of the fastest growing solar cell and module companies in the world, will become a new valuable strategic customer of REC, and this agreement further cements REC’s position as the leading manufacturer of multicrystalline silicon wafers and strengthens our platform for further growth". said Erik Thorsen, President & CEO of REC.

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd (10/30/2006)


Saving 20% by 2020: European Commission unveils Action Plan on Energy Efficiency

As a major step toward meeting the unprecedented energy challenges facing the EU, the European Commission on October 19th 2006 presented its Energy Efficiency Action Plan. The Plan contains a package of priority measures covering a wide range of cost-effective energy efficiency initiatives. These include actions to make energy appliances, buildings, transport and energy generation more efficient. Stringent new energy efficiency standards, promotion of energy services, specific financing mechanisms to support more energy efficient products are proposed. The Commission will furthermore set a Covenant of Mayors of the 20-30 most pioneering cities in Europe and will propose an international agreement on energy efficiency. Altogether, over 75 measures are set forth.

Energy Commissioner Piebalgs. Energy Commissioner Piebalgs: "Europeans need to save energy. Europe wastes at least 20% of the energy it uses. By saving energy, Europe will help address climate change, as well as its rising consumption, and its dependence on fossil fuels imported from outside the Union's borders.".
Image Source: CE Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
"Energy efficiency is crucial for Europe: If we take action now, the direct cost of our energy consumption could be reduced by more than € 100 billion annually by 2020; around 780 millions tonnes of CO2 will also be avoided yearly" the Energy Commissioner pointed out.

Minimum energy performance standards; consumer information on efficient products

The Action Plan, which will be implemented over the next six years, is in response to the urgent call from Heads of State and Government at the Spring European Council this year for a realistic Energy Efficiency strategy. The Plan underlines the importance of minimum energy performance standards for a wide range of appliances and equipment (from household goods such as fridges and air conditioners to industrial pumps and fans), and for buildings and energy services. In combination with performance ratings and labelling schemes minimum performance standards represent a powerful tool for removing inefficient products from the market, informing consumers of the most efficient products and transforming the market to make it more energy efficient. Minimum performance requirements for new and renovated buildings will be developed. Very low energy consumption buildings (or passive houses) will also be promoted. The Plan emphasises the considerable potential for reducing losses in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. The Action Plan proposes targeted instruments to improve the efficiency of both new and existing generation capacity and to reduce transmission and distribution losses.

A comprehensive set of measures for improving energy efficiency in the area of transport is put forward. The Plan recognises that energy savings can be achieved, in particular, by ensuring fuel efficiency of cars, developing markets for cleaner vehicles, ensuring proper tyre pressure and by improving the efficiency of urban, rail, maritime and aviation transport systems. The Plan recognises the importance of changing transportation behaviour. The Action Plan also calls for appropriate and predictable price signals, essential for improving energy efficiency and overall economic performance.
The Plan also contains a number of additional proposals to raise energy efficiency awareness, such as education and training. Finally, the Plan emphasises the urgent need for energy efficiency issues to be addressed on a global level through international partnerships.

The Action Plan on Energy Efficiency, when fully implemented, can thus improve the Union's competitiveness, improve the living standards of its citizens, boost employment and increase exports of new, energy-efficient technology. On an individual level, small changes in energy consumption patterns will mean saving money, improving the environment and doing our share for our common European goals, the European Commission emphasizes in it's press release.

Further information on the action at:

European Commission


New PV-Tenders at internet auction-house

The Internet auction house offers a new form of trading: By a call for tender buyers prompt the vendors to make the best offer for a photovoltaic system. The buyer indicates his maximum purchase price. Interested vendors bid for, whereas the lowest bid leads on this reverse auction system. The seller with the cheapest bid receives the award automatically at expiration of the auction duration.

solar market turns into a buyer's market

"The solar market in the past weeks changed from the vendors to a buyer's market. Customers who want to invest have a clear vision of product, quality and price for solar modules and solar systems." says Daniel Köpf, General Manager at "Inquiries for certain solar module types rise up, but are more and more dominated by the question of price." Köpf adds . The new function shall help buyers and sellers running their worldwide business much faster and more save. The past personnel-intensive broker service for solar modules with is replaced by the reverse auctions.

At the closed market place, only manufacturers, retailers, vendors and system providers meet with installers from the electronics, heating, plumbing, air condition and solar industry. Registered members can trade here rest- and overcapacities or place committing tenders.

spotHunter Online-Marktplatz GmbH (10/23/2006)


solar catamaran started for transatlantic crossing

On Monday, October 16th 2006 the solar catamaran "sun21" set off from Basel Schifflände for the world’s first solar powered transatlantic crossing. Its ultimate destination is New York. The vessel, which sleeps up to five people, is powered only by the solar energy produced on board. The crossing is being sponsored by the transatlantic21 association under the guidance of Daniela Schlettwein-Gsell, a doctor from Basel. The first part of its journey leads "sun21" to Rotterdam, the transatlantic record attempt itself will begin at the end of November in Seville, Spain. The journey will take in the Cape Verde Islands in the Caribbean en route to Florida. From there, the boat will sail along the American coast to New York, where on 8 May 2007 after 7,000 miles at sea, it will be met by the Mayor and people of New York. It will be the longest-ever voyage attempted by a solar boat.

Solar-Boat " sun 21".

Solar-Boat " sun 21".


Picture Source: Transatlantic21, Photographer: Gartmann, CH-Münchenstein.

Sun in place of diesel

The innovative solar boat was built by MW-Line at its shipyard in Yverdon in the west of Switzerland. The "sun21" is fourteen metres long and six metres wide. Fitted out with solar cells, batteries and electric motors, the catamaran will travel day and night without using a single drop of fuel. The boat offers sea-going accommodation for five people. It will be captained by Mark Wüst and Michel Thonney, who both hail from western Switzerland. The other members of the crew are Martin Vosseler, a doctor from Basel, the historian Beat von Scarpatetti and Professor David Senn, who will be carrying out marine biology studies during the trip.

Solar boats are the future

The promoters of this record attempt wish to provide a vivid demonstration of the tremendous potential of solar technology - even in sea transportation. They feel that renewable solar energy could provide the power for many of the world’s growing number of cargo vessels and leisure craft. The know-how and technology are already available and there is nothing to stop it from being put into practice - as transatlantic21 is about to demonstrate. To take just one example, the solar-powered electric motors used to power the "sun21" could in future replace the two-stroke engines that take sailing boats into harbour. After Bertrand Piccard‘s solar-powered flight around the world scheduled for 2011, and the plan to circumnavigate the globe in a combined solar-hydrogen boat announced recently in Romandy, the transatlantic21 is now the third solar project from Switzerland with the potential to break records. The "sun21" catamaran is the most advanced of these projects. All three teams involved are working closely together. The experience gained in crossing the Atlantic will benef t the projects that follow.

More information:

transatlantic21 (10/20/2006)


Google planning 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at its Mountain View campus

"Epic games of beach volleyball, urban indoor workspaces infused with natural light, enthusiasm for the outdoors – at Google, we've always taken advantage of the sun. And now we're ready to use the sun yet another way: to create clean electricity", Robyn Beavers, Corporate Environmental Programs Manager reports in the Google blog. According to Robyn Beavers Google plans the installation of 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at its Mountain View campus. This project will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and Google thinks it's one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

The panels will cover the roofs of the four main buildings of the Googleplex, and also those of two additional buildings across the street.


Picture: Google Campus. Source: EI Solutions

30 % of Google's peak electricity consumption powered by the sun

There will also be a portion of this installation on new solar panel support structures in a few parking lots. The amount of electricity that will be generated is equivalent to powering about 1,000 average California homes. Google will use that electricity to power several of our Mountain View office facilities, offsetting approximately 30 % of its peak electricity consumption at those buildings.

To tackle this ambitious project, Google is partnering with the power company EI Solutions. "The installation of clean and renewable power represents a first step in reducing our environmental impact as a company. We believe that improving our environmental practices is not only our responsibility as a corporate citizen, but good business planning", Beavers emphasizes.

Large investment in renewable energy can be profitable

A new report from the North American Electric Reliability Council suggests that demand continues to outstrip power supply by a considerable margin. "And of course by saving electricity (not to mention producing clean renewable energy), we also save money. In fact, we believe this project demonstrates that a large investment in renewable energy can be profitable", Robyn Beavers concludes.

By building the largest solar power system ever installed at a single corporate campus, Google will save more than $ 393,000 annually in energy costs - or close to $ 15 million over the 30-year lifespan of its solar system, EI Solutions calculated. At this rate, the system will pay for itself in approximately 7.5 years.

Google Inc.; EI Solutions, Inc. (10/18/2006)


Club of Rome: German Politicians claim "Clean Power from the Deserts"

Politicians from the German Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party are campaigning for a cooperation between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to develop renewable energy. In doing so, they are acting on a proposal by the Club of Rome to take this major step in fighting climate change. In an effort to find reliable supplies of energy in the long-term, they highlight the production of clean power through Solar Thermal Power Plants in desert regions and the use of wind energy in the regions of trade winds, the Club of Rome reports in a press release. Parts of this non-polluting electricity shall be transmitted to Europe via low-loss high-voltage direct current power lines.

Sketch of possible infrastructure for a sustainable supply of power to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (short: EU-MENA).

Sketch of possible infrastructure for a sustainable supply of power to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (short: EU-MENA).


Source: Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC

Political support for Solar Thermal Power Plants

At a conference in Cairo, the german federal environmental minister, Sigmar Gabriel argued in favour of an international cooperation in the fields of renewable forms of energy. He also expressed his support for the import of clean electricity from desert regions in the medium term. During an award ceremony on November 7th in Berlin, the president of The Club of Rome, His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, will meet with Minister Gabriel to talk about a range of issues including joint interests in the field of solar thermal power generation. Also Hans-Josef Fell, an expert in the field of technology and energy matters with the Green Party, and a member of an initiative of The Club of Rome, stresses the importance of energy cooperation between the western countries and the Arab world. A current resolution of the Green Party demands the government to be more proactive in the EU, where matters of clean power from the deserts are concerned.

Studies show that production costs of Solar Thermal Power can decline to 0,04 to 0,05 Euro/kWh

Members of the German government and the opposition both refer to studies of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). These studies show how, by the year 2020, growing demands for energy in Northern Africa and the Middle East, and as much as 5% of European electricity needs can be met by clean power from desert regions. By combining the import of clean electricity from desert regions with the use of local forms of renewable energy, European CO2 emissions from electricity generation could be reduced by up to 70% by the year 2050. Moreover, an interesting by-product of solar thermal power plants is desalinated seawater that may be produced using waste heat from the power-generation process. According to calculations by researchers at DLR, large-scale construction of such power plants in desert areas will bring production costs down to about 0,04 to 0,05 Euro/kWh, a price level that will make it one of the cheapest sources of electricity.

Further Information:

Club of Rome (10/16/2006)


Evergreen Solar celebrates construction milestone at second EverQ plant in Germany

Evergreen Solar, Inc., a manufacturer of solar power products, on October 2nd celebrated the laying of the cornerstone at a second solar production plant in Thalheim (Germany). The new 60-megawatt (MW) facility, constructed by Evergreen's EverQ partnership, has the double capacity of the first facility opened earlier this year by EverQ in Saxony-Anhalt. EverQ GmbH is a partnership of three global leaders in the solar power industry: Evergreen Solar, Inc. (United States), Q-Cells AG (Germany) and Renewable Energy Corporation ASA (Norway). Evergreen Solar develops, manufactures and markets solar power products using its proprietary String Ribbon(TM) technology. Q-Cells is the world's largest independent manufacturer of crystalline silicon solar cells. Renewable Energy Corporation ASA (REC) is the world's largest manufacturer of solar-grade silicon and multicrystalline wafers.

Two growing silicon ribbons at the production line

EverQ, which uses Evergreen Solar's String Ribbon wafer technology, ensures the production of high-quality products by manufacturing everything under one roof: wafers, cells and modules.



Picture: Two growing silicon ribbons at the production line. Source: Evergreen Solar, Inc.

350 additional jobs in the new solar factory

"Developing EverQ 2 so quickly on the heels of our first German production plant is a clear sign that the partnership is delivering on its value proposition, and as such, we are accelerating our strategic growth plan," said Rick Feldt, President and Chief Executive Officer of Evergreen Solar and Chairman of EverQ. "The expertise of our partners, combined with our strong polysilicon supply chain and skilled workforce, has enabled EverQ to make its mark in the global solar market in just a few months' time", Feldt endorsed. All of the modules (90MW) produced by the two EverQ manufacturing plants will be Evergreen Solar-branded, Spruce Line (TM) product for use in supplying its customers in Europe and around the globe. The new facility is expected to create 350 additional jobs in Thalheim.

Evergreen Solar, Inc. (10/12/2006)


Worldwatch Institute: Renewables Becoming Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels in the U.S.

Renewable resources currently provide just over 6 percent of total U.S. energy, but that figure could increase rapidly in the years ahead, according to a joint report released today by the Worldwatch Institute and the Center for American Progress, titled "American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security." Many of the new technologies that harness renewables are, or soon will be, economically competitive with fossil fuels, Worldwatch emphasizes. Dynamic growth rates are driving down costs and spurring rapid advances in technologies. Since 2000, global wind energy generation has more than tripled; solar cell production has risen six-fold; production of fuel ethanol from crops have more than doubled; and biodiesel production has expanded nearly four-fold. Annual global investment in "new" renewable energy has risen almost six-fold since 1995, with cumulative investment over this period nearly $ 180 billion.

Worldwatch-Report on Renewables.

"With oil prices soaring, the security risks of petroleum dependence growing, and the environmental costs of today's fuels becoming more apparent, the country faces compelling reasons to put these technologies to use on a larger scale," notes the report.


Worldwatch-Report on Renewables. Picture Source: Worldwatch Institute

America boasts some of the world's best renewable energy resources

Some of the findings include that America boasts some of the world's best renewable energy resources, which have the potential to meet a rising and significant share of the nation's energy demand. For example, one-fourth of U.S. land area has winds powerful enough to generate electricity as cheaply as natural gas and coal, and the solar resources of just seven southwest states could provide 10 times the current electric generating capacity.

Incentives and renewable energy laws all over the country

All but four U.S. states now have incentives in place to promote renewable energy, while more than a dozen have enacted new renewable energy laws in the past few years, and four states strengthened their targets in 2005. California gets 31 percent of its electricity from renewable resources; 12 percent of this comes from non-hydro sources such as wind and geothermal energy. Texas now has the country's largest collection of wind generators. The United States led the world in wind energy installations in 2005. Iowa produces enough ethanol that, if consumed in-state, would meet half the state's gasoline requirements. Due to the Worldwatch-Report Renewable energy creates more jobs per unit of energy produced and per dollar spent than fossil fuel technologies do.

Consistent policy framework required

Despite strong public support and rapidly rising interest in renewable technologies, the U.S. has not kept up with the rapid growth in the sector globally over the past decade. If the U.S. is to join the world leaders in renewable energy - among them Germany, Spain, and Japan- it will need world-class energy policies based on a sustained and consistent policy framework at the local, state, and national levels, Worldwatch resumes.
A free PDF-Document is available as a download at Worldwatch

Worldwatch Institute (10/09/2006)


WPD receives Ernst & Young Global Renewable Energy Award

On September 26nd the Bremen based WPD AG received the Euromoney/Ernst & Young Global Renewable Energy Award in London (category "Developer Of the year"). The statement of the jury was: "WPD is successfully active in the segment of renewable energies since 10 years and has a disproportionately high growth in relation to other companies in this sector. Besides the investment volume of more than EUR 1.4, the activities in the offshore segment are also to point out."

Picture: The German Federal Minister of Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, visiting the first offshore wind project in Germany situated at the harbour of Rostock.

As Germany’s biggest offshore wind developer WPD received just recently all necessary permissions for the first projects in the Baltic Sea, von Langenn-Steinkeller stated.



Picture: The German Federal Minister of Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, visiting the first offshore wind project in Germany situated at the harbour of Rostock. Source: WPD AG.

"While Renewable Energy is becoming more and more a worldwide movement it is WPD’s dedication to intensify the international development. We thank all who are involved in the success of the company”, von Langenn–Steinkeller says.

WPD AG (10/02/2006)

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