Briefly Noted … Worldwide Renewable Energy News– Since 1997, worldwide demand for solar PV modules has grown 300 percent, or 31 percent per year, according to the California research firm of Strategies Unlimited. PV modules are forecast to reach 320 MWp this year. PV continues to expand in most regions of the world, says the company’s report, ‘Global Analysis of PV Markets – 2002,’ with growth due to rising energy costs, electric power interruptions, growing public awareness of renewable alternatives, government subsidies, and rural electrification in off-grid regions. The largest regional markets have been Japan, Germany and the United States. Japanese market growth softened this year as government subsides were reduced. In the U.S., solar-electric home construction in California has received a boost from consumer demand and government subsidies, while Germany continues to lead the European market because of its environmentally consciousness public, according to the report. Grid connected applications have become the top global PV application, accounting for 50 percent of total installations this year. Grid connected installations have grown at an annual growth rate of 60 percent during the past five years, while traditional applications continue to increase at annual rates of 15 to 20 percent. The report is based on data from 500 interviews in 80 countries, including 200 distributors. – Umweltkontor Renewable Energy AG has commissioned Germany’s largest solar power plant, with a total capacity of 1.6 MW. The solar installation is near Markstetten in Bavaria and the company’s PV capacity will increase from 140 kW last year to 1,700 kW this year. The project’s price/performance ratio and the location in southern Germany (with above-average hours of sunshine) allow Umweltkontor to offer what it describes as a high-yield investment opportunity for private investors. – The energy ministry in Jordan is inviting proposals to develop a 100 to 150 MW solar hybrid power plant in Quwairah that uses either parabolic trough or solar tower technology, assisted with a fuel oil or natural gas fired boiler. The facility would be build-own-operate and closing date for responses is January 15. – The first phase of a private placement fund raising for Thai Photovoltaics Ltd was strongly oversubscribed, with private accredited investors paying US$880,800 for a 6 percent equity stake in the company. The initial target was $440,400. TPV will manufacture amorphous silicon thin-film PV solar modules in Thailand, using U.S. and European equipment and local raw materials, to meet substantial existing electricity demands in the region. – The southern city of Shenzhen is producing 2 MW of solar PV cells in its hi-tech zone, or 50 percent of the country’s total output. Shenzhen Lighting Electric Appliance Association says three solar factories are operating, and another US$28 million joint venture between China and France will set up using French technology and will be in full production by 2003, concentrating on production of single- and multi-silicon cells, with total annual sales projected to reach $90 million. Shenzhen Sumoncle Solar Energy Co makes three types of PV cells: hydrogen amorphous silicon; single and poly-crystalline silicon; and cadmium sulfide/cadmium telluride junctions. The company has recently launched miniature and super-thin aSi cells that can be tailored to meet voltage requirements. Another company plans to increase output by one third in the coming year. – China has set up Asia’s first high-voltage solar energy pumping station near the Taklimakan Desert, 116 kilometers from a main highway. The solar pumping system taps underground water resources of the desert area with a 15 kW system. – Trials on South African solar-powered water purification units using ozone technology could pave the way for widespread introduction of the alternative purification method in rural areas. A cholera epidemic that has ravaged KwaZulu-Natal province for the past year has focused attention on the lack of potable water in rural areas, where chlorine is used to purify water for human consumption. Ozone is produced commercially by passing air through an electric spark and is used in 3,000 municipal water treatment plants around the world, according to Chem-Free Aqua. – Soluz has appointed Robert Pratt as chairman of its board of directors. The company uses PV systems. Pratt is former chairman and founder of Energia Global International, an independent power producer in Central America that started in 1991 and had revenue of US$40 million this year. EGI was recently acquired by Erga of Italian utility Enel, in a $110 million transaction.