solar power

Germany commits to solar panels and wind power

Germany is leading the way in developing solar and wind power as part of their radical change of energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Their latest North Sea offshore wind energy farm is another milestone in Germany’s ambitious project that has already produced striking results: Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable energy sources. Many smaller countries are beating that, but

Solar powered travel, a distant dream or viable future?

As hybrid or electric vehicles become more common place1,2,3 scientists, engineers and visionaries are turning their attention on the next challenge: fully solar powered transport. The Solar Impulse is an impossibly graceful solar powered aircraft who’s wings span fully 63 m (about the same as an Airbus 340) but this plane only carries one pilot and travels at barely 30 km/h when taking off. What the plane lacks in speed

Solar panel subsidy cut halted

The solar panel industry has welcomed a halt to plans to cut subsidies for fitting solar panels to homes as ministers concluded that a cut would damage Britain’s chances of meeting its targets to renewable energy production. Subsidies for feed-in tariffs were halved last year and were due to implement another cut in July. Senior figures in the solar energy industry warned they faced a crisis which jeopardised thousands of

Artificial leaf could generate fuel by photosynthesis

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have created an artificial ‘leaf’ capable of converting the sun’s energy to liquid fuel. Professor Richard Cogdell from the University of Glasgow explained “The sun gives its energy away for free but making use of it is tricky. We can use solar panels to make electricity but it’s intermittent and difficult to store. What we are trying to do is take the energy from the


It’s a calculation that can be done on the back of an envelope. Gerhard Knies a German particle physicist was the first to estimate how much was required to meet humanity’s demand for electricity. In 1986, in direct response to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he scribbled down some figures and arrived at the following remarkable conclusion: in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun than

Solar feed-in-tariff cut

The UK government has announced a 50% cut in the subsidy for the Feed-in-Tarriff scheme where UK householders receive a premium price for any excess electricity generated from their solar panels. The scheme has been very popular, encouraging many householders with savings to invest in solar power for considerably better returns than a high interest savings account (41p a kWH, around 4 times the normal electricity price). Even those without