Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PV Can Play 'Huge Part in Power Generation'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

PV Can Play 'Huge Part in Power Generation'

Article excerpt

Byline: John Hill

ASOLAR technology expert based in the North East will use an upcoming conference to push for more political and financial backing for photovoltaic technology in the UK.

At the Solar Flair conference at County Durham's Lumley Castle next month, Northumbria University's Dr Ian Forbes will warn that the nation must dig deeper to avoid falling behind countries such as Germany, Japan and the USA.

Dr Forbes - a member of international research body PV-21 Supergen - believes the next decade will be crucial in determining whether Britain will be a major supplier or a buyer of solar power. He said: "A lot of people don't believe it is reasonable to use PV in the UK but that's not the case. Germany is the biggest market with around 40% of the world's total and the UK has only about 15% less sunlight on average than Germany.

The market is going to be there and we are either going to be able to benefit from it or not.

"If we say it won't happen here, by the time we realise it can happen here we will have missed the boat.

"The decision-makers need to be aware of what's happening elsewhere and not think that it's not possible here. If they do rule it out they are effectively putting a constraint on our economy. It's the biggest resource available and outstrips nuclear, wind and other energy sources."

PV-21's research team aims to drive down costs in the production of photovoltaic technology by replacing some materials with cheaper and more abundant alternatives.

The cost of the technology remains a potential stumbling block for PV, which has been boosted in recent times by the introduction of the feed-in tariff and the recent decision by the Science and Technology Committee to look into the case for new technology innovation centres.

Dr Forbes will be joined at the Solar Flair conference by fellow PV-21 member and Durham University professor Ken Durose to explain the merits of thin film PV technology, which is lighter than conventional solar panel surfaces.

According to research cited by Dr Forbes, more energy from the sun reaches the earth's surface in an hour than the entire power consumption of mankind each year. …

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