The Growing Solar Energy Industry: REI Expert Interview with Professor John Wilson
The REI is proud to work with a great number of leading Experts in the field of Renewable Energy, in order to disseminate the latest technologies and best practice in the sector. This month, the REI is delighted to discuss current trends in Solar Energy with Expert Lecturer Professor John Wilson.
EEC: Where do you see the biggest opportunities for Solar Energy in 2018 and are there any Solar Technologies you are particularly excited about?Professor Wilson: Several countries are now trialling large battery back-up systems for utility-scale PV arrays and battery storage is likely to be an increasing market. It is also likely to be joined by increasing Electric Vehicle take-up which provides another large-scale market for batteries. Perovskite solar cells are now moving into their next phase of development with companies such as Oxford PV acquiring additional funding to move into industrial scale production. Installations using Bi-facial PV cells, which collect solar energy on both back and front sides, are more difficult to model than conventional ones, but produce more electricity from the same panel area: predicting their performance will be helped by more field trials and the introduction of specialised inverters. With regard to new technologies, I am particularly excited about the uptake of Heterojunction cells using ultrathin crystalline silicon with amorphous silicon layers on each side. EEC: What do you think the biggest challenges are for Solar Energy in 2018?Professor Wilson: Firstly, encouraging the bigger investment groups to support a greater take-up of PV in developing countries and not just to invest in advanced economies; increasing reliance on China for PV panels and cells as other country’s manufacturers are unable to compete; avoiding “trade-wars” if tariffs affect the supply of PV cells and equipment; and finally, improving the stability of perovskite PV cells (and of other new PV materials) so that they are effective competition for established materials.
EEC: What were the big “moments” for Solar Energy in 2017?Professor Wilson: Total installed peak capacity of PV worldwide reached 400GW in 2017, with China accounting for around 50% of the 98 GW of new installations that year. Much of the growth was in large scale utility installations rather than smaller roof-top ones. Over 2% of the world’s electricity is now generated by PV. Moreover, Solar Power Purchase Agreements were widely adopted by some countries for tendering of new utility-scale PV installations. Professor John Wilson, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, is Professor of Materials Processing, and has conducted extensive research in the applications of solar energy span for more than 30 years. Former Academic Head of Physics, Professor Wilson has also been an international consultant in photovoltaics and solar energy to the UN and other organisations and companies worldwide.
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