This week, at the European Future Energy Forum (EFEF), we were reminded once again about the need for collaboration, innovation and knowledge transfer between countries, companies and governments, in shaping the future of renewable energy in the world.
Renewable energy technology safeguards our environment, bolsters our energy security and drives our economic development globally.
Solar power is one of the primordial energy sources. I could be biased, but to me there is no other energy source that feels so naturally right for harnessing: with each sunrise our planet has the potential capacity to sustainably recharge its energy grids across the world.
Today, thanks to Masdar, Abu Dhabi is a hothouse for innovation in solar and all sectors of renewable energy, innovation that is making its way to the world and leads to greater energy security and a cleaner environment.
The Zayed Future Energy Prize, which stems from the same vision, is yet another example of a global initiative by the Abu Dhabi government that recognizes and rewards individuals and organisations who are developing pioneering technologies in the renewable energy and sustainability sectors with the greatest potential to impact and benefit communities all over the world. Now it its fourth year, the Prize is witnessing a steady increase in the number of submissions (425 entries from 71countries for the 2012 Award) and is considered a catalyst for innovations in the renewable eco-system.
I am an ardent champion of the Prize: I feel immensely proud for the recognition Suntech received from it in 2010, and I am looking forward to hearing about the wealth of innovations and solutions NGOs, SMEs; Corporations and Individuals entered for the 2012 Awards.
Renewable energy must be a top priority for companies, governments and people alike. Determined efforts are going into making renewable energy more pervasive, more affordable, and introducing it throughout the business world and the entire manufacturing cycle.
The increasing interest in the Prize form part of the continuing good news surrounding renewable energy this year, including a report that solar photovoltaics (PV) continues to be one of the most promising growth markets. According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, (EPIA), the cumulative global installed PV capacity stood at almost 16.5 GW at the end of 2010, compared to only 9 GW at the end of 2007. (Germany ranked first followed by Italy and Spain in terms of cumulative installed solar electric power capacity.)
Though there’s uncertainty surrounding the incentivizing of the renewable market, in the current global economic climate (with feed-in tariffs that guaranteed above-market power prices for the life of a PV installation being slashed across Europe, including in Germany and Italy), the fact that more countries are adopting renewable energy standards and planning to build solar plants has analysts and fund managers feeling more confident about the industry and bullish on solar in particular, because the market is no longer dominated by two or three players and could finally deliver the economy of scale necessary.
While Europe is moving towards smaller rooftop installation, in the U.S. the focus is on utility-scale projects, which could transform the States into one of the world’s most dynamic solar markets. California, the epicentre of the U.S. clean energy industry, has received billions of dollars in venture capital funding to clean-energy companies. Last year, the state took in about $9 billion in venture capital, and almost 20% went to clean technology companies. Tech-savvy people and entrepreneurs are now helping America take charge of its energy future (Google alone has pledged $780 million for clean energy).
Domestic demand in Asia is picking-up too, and China is rapidly becoming the key country in the region to drive the solar power market, from both a supply and demand perspective (China’s latest five-year plan increases the country’s solar power target to 10,000 MW by 2015 and 50,000 MW by 2020).
All in all, a sunny forecast for the solar energy market.
Jerry Stokes is President of Suntech Europe