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News Solar vFinal DR 18/12/09 09:27 Page 8
UN conference triggers Solar cell
solar investment pledges
observations of
A number of countries have pledged their
‘hot electron’
commitment to renewable energy
resources as the United Nations Climate
Change Conference continues to get
underway in Copenhagen. The United The ‘hot electron’ effect has been
Nations Climate Change Conference in observed in a solar cell for the first
Copenhagen has led to a number of time, enabling researchers to harvest
different countries pledging to do more to the charges using ultra-thin solar cells
reduce their nation’s carbon footprints for improved efficiency.
and solar energy has prominently
Issue VI 2009
featured in these promises. Researchers at Boston College noted in
Applied Physics Letters that until now, a
In the run-up to the conference, countries challenge faced by scientists is that the
including Germany announced their plans high kinetic energy of ‘hot electrons’ -
for a solar future. Germany recently In April, FiTs will come into effect in the which have been observed in
revealed it now has more than a third of UK and offer businesses incentive to semiconductors - has degraded a
the world’s total capacity - 5.3 gigawatts. migrate to renewable energy devices. device. Furthermore, it claimed that throughout The World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund
2009 almost three gigawatts will be has approved $750 million (£460 million) Indeed, when light is captured in solar
installed, which is a world record for to accelerate the deployment of cells free electrons are generated but
installed solar capacity in one country in Concentrated Solar Power. they must reach the bottom of the
a 12-month period. conduction band to be effective. ‘Hot’
Shamshad Akhtar, World Bank regional electrons lose a lot of their energy to
Now the conference is underway, a range vice-president of the Middle East and heat as they make this journey.
of countries from the US, to Greece to the North Africa, commented: “The initiative
UK have revealed plans for solar tariffs, would leverage energy diversification, The team used ultrathin solar cells
grants and tax breaks in order to while promoting Euro-Mediterranean fewer than 30 nanometres thick to
encourage renewable energy uptake.In integration to the benefit of MENA develop a mechanism which can extract
the pre-Budget report, the British countries that will be able to exploit one the electrons before they cool.
government said it hopes to achieve a of the major untapped sources of energy.
global deal in Copenhagen to reduce “We have shrunk the size of the solar
carbon emissions. One proposal included According to the World Bank, MENA has cell by making it thin. In doing so, we
providing a tax emption from feed-in- the most favourable combination of are bringing these hot electrons closer
tariffs (FiTs) for individuals which generate physical and market advantages to to the surface, so they can be collected
small-scale renewable electricity for use at enable wide-scale deployment of CSP. more readily,” said professor of physics
home. This could add up to an average CSP systems use tracking systems and at the college Krzysztof Kempa, lead
£180 for a household which installs a mirrors or lenses as a heat source for PV author of the study.
solar photovoltaic (PV) panel. surfaces or a conventional power plant.
Solar cell investment in China ‘a necessity’
The Chinese solar cell market is It is also the biggest polluter of including lithium.
becoming increasingly important to greenhouse gases and this could result in
investors and is now a “prime region” for the country contributing 63 per cent of “None of the big innovations that major
clean energy projects including solar global emissions in ten years’ time. As economies are relying on to kickstart their
and wind, it has been reported. such, investing in solar cell research and economies - not solar panels, electric
development could prove to be a good vehicles, wind turbines, smart phones or
According to the Financial Times, the business move. laptops - will materialise without a steady
advent of China as a leading solar cell supply of these metals,” he stated.
market has been a necessity rather than Mark Martyrossian, of renewable energy
choice as with the third largest economy hedge fund Tiburon Terra, told the Agence France-Presse recently reported
in the world, the country has seen its newspaper that China is also important that China has the biggest solar cell
energy usage rise to the second-largest for solar cell development because it has production volumes.
on a global scale. rich reserves of important metals
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