Shadow chancellor rebukes government for ‘destruction’ of UK solar industry. McDonnell, responding to chancellor Philip Hammond’s spring statement, said that the government had “single-handedly destroyed our solar industry”, adding that 12,000 jobs were lost as a result of cuts to subsidies. His comments are perhaps the strongest condemnation of the Conservative’s stance on solar from a Labour front bencher to date and prompted jeers from across the House. Cuts to solar subsidies started not long after the Conservatives swept to a majority win at the 2015 election. Proposals to cut both the Renewables Obligation and the small-scale feed-in tariff were announced that summer, and solar continues to be effectively locked out of Contracts for Difference auctions. McDonnell’s figures on job losses are likely to be even more severe than the 12,000 he mentioned today. The shadow chancellor appears to be referencing a study conducted by both the Solar Trade Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers that revealed in July 2016 that as many as 12,500 jobs had been lost in the year following the cuts. The government’s support of solar was discussed less than an hour previous in the same chamber, with Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Orals occupying the slot just before the spring statement. Chris Law, SNP MP for Dundee West, referenced how solar remained locked out of CfD auctions, putting the technology at a “clear competitive disadvantage” to other forms of renewable generation. Climate and energy minister Claire Perry responded by arguing that the department was “continuing to look at ways of bringing forward all forms of renewable energy”, insisting it had not yet taken decisions on future CfD allocations round but intended to do so.
Solar Power Portal 13th March 2018 read more »
A solar panel that can generate electricity from falling raindrops has been invented, enabling power to flow even when skies cloud over or the sun has set. Solar power installation is soaring globally thanks to costs plunging 90% in the past decade, making it the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world. But the power output can plummet under grey skies and researchers are working to squeeze even more electricity from panels. The new device, demonstrated in a laboratory at Soochow University in China, places two transparent polymer layers on top of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell. When raindrops fall on to the layers and then roll off, the friction generates a static electricity charge. Prof Keith Barnham, at Imperial College London, said the hybrid device gave an important advantage in making it more compact and efficient. But he said: “Wind power is clearly the most effective and complementary power source to PV – and it works equally well in the rain!” Other innovations in solar panel design include using the mineral perovskite as a flexible and efficient material, using so-called “quantum dots” and researching artificial photosynthesis, which uses sunlight to produce liquid and gas fuels.
Guardian 13th March 2018 read more »