Global solar market brimming with innovation



The recent spate of innovative solar power projects show that the sector is well and truly on the up. And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve got news of three more large-scale developments in the pipeline across the world.

The first comes from South Africa, whose fourth largest city, Durban, recently announced its intention to become a world leader in ocean current energy.

In order for the country to meet its target of 10,000 gigawatt (GW) hours of renewable energy produced yearly by 2013, its Department of Energy has awarded a solar project an 88 megawatt (MW) addition to its array.

The Jasper Solar Energy Project in Cape Town, which is run by a US developer, SolarReserve, and two South African firms, the Kensani Group and Intikon Energy, already boasts 150MW of solar installations. The new section will bring this figure up to 238MW, so that it accounts for 20% of the country’s solar share.

Staying in Africa, but venturing to the north, the second big solar news emerges from Morocco.

In December last year, the North African nation was the first to join the Desertec initiative – a multi-billion pound, largely German-led project, which plans to install a huge network of solar farms across Middle Eastern and North African deserts.

In a separate development, though, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) has announced that the first phase of a 2GW (or 2,000MW) solar vision is to commence this year.

A 500MW section of the project in the country’s Ouarzazate region will be the first to be developed, with an initial 160MW of that being approved by Masen already.

The overarching 2GW Moroccan Solar Plan will, once finished in 2020, make up 38% of the country’s current energy generation capacity – a huge leap forward in solar technology for North Africa, and indeed, the world.

The third and final solar innovation to be included in this piece is, on paper, undoubtedly the biggest. But it’s also the least concrete.

The Middle Eastern state of Saudi Arabia, notoriously highly dependent on oil for both energy and economic reasons, might be changing its ways after asking for investors in a 41GW, $109 billion solar project that it hopes will lead a renewable revolution.

Although it’s very much in the planning stage, the proposals would see the solar sector account for a third of Saudi Arabia’s peak power demand by 2032.

And being one of the most ideal locations in the world to install solar technology, it’s a much welcome announcement that shows even the most oil-rich states are thinking about the sustainability of their energy markets.

Let’s just hope that they stick to their plans.

It’s encouraging to see so many countries going gung-ho for solar. In our recent report, The Rise of Renewable Energy, Neil McNiven of predicted that in the future, there will be “national grids merging together into super grids so that we could get solar electricity from North Africa to Northern Europe”.

And the vast amount of sunlight available across the Earth – added to the increasing number of large-scale developments – mean that it might not be too long before solar becomes a big, competitive player in the world’s energy market.

On a community level, too, the installation of solar panels in your home is vitally important. And with the feed-in tariff cuts set to be delayed, now is as good a time as any to take the leap into the sector. Get in touch with Good Energy – the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier – to find out how to do so.

Further reading:

Solar developments branch out to space

“World’s largest solar project” begins major construction

Suffolk surges on in large solar development race

Truly, the Land of the Rising Sun


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