Reducing the Cost of Solar in the UK

Costs to manufacture solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are some of the greatest challenges facing the PV industry. Solar arrays won’t take the energy market by storm until the costs come down, and the University of Wales just took on a research roll to try and answer the cost-to-supply question in the United Kingdom.

Gwynedd, Wales – September 16, 2004 [] The University was awarded £4.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for the SuperGen program’s sustainable power generation and supply initiative. Whether the search for alternative energy sources is driven by concerns about global fossil fuel supplies or over the atmospheric effects of burning of fossil fuels, the government has laid out its aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent of 1990 levels by 2050, and aims to over- achieve its goal of sourcing 10 percent of energy from renewables by 2010. Renewable sources such as wind wave and solar power are already being used to produce a small percentage of UK energy needs. But if the government’s targets are to be met, according to the university, the contribution needs to be more significant and the technology more cost-effective. The technology used to derive electrical energy from PV provides the best solution, theoretically, said the University. Current technology, however, means that there are high front-end costs to the technology, and consequently people have been slow to embrace PV. The SuperGen research into PV has brought together six universities and seven industrial partners with the aim of finding novel ways for driving down costs and making solar power generation a cost-effective alternative. “Renewable energy must grow and become more visible in the 21 century. The aim of this research is to slash the costs of providing solar energy by half,” said Professor Stuart Irvine, of the University of Wales, Bangor’s School of Chemistry, who is managing the whole project.


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