A sunny forecast for solar power

At the European Future Energy Forum (EFEF) held in October this year, participants 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 environment, bolsters energy security and drives 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,” says Jerry Stokes, president of Suntech Europe. 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 recognises 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, he says. “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,” he says. 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 forms 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 power capacity. Though there’s uncertainty surrounding the incentivising 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.