What Are These Two Giants Doing About Renewables?
Renewable Energy in China and Brazil
China and Suntech Power
China has been recently awarded with the title of the world’s strongest economy, and there are a number of reasons why they are so good at what they do. China has set a world record in solar cell efficiency with the help of the firm Suntech Power which is, by no coincidence, the world’s largest producer of solar panels.
Their product, the Pluto cell technology, has set a new world record of 20.3% efficiency in energy production from a cell using standard silicon wafers. The technology for this product has been designed by Suntech in collaboration with the University of New South Wales. The reason why this product is internationally acclaimed is because of its affordable price.
Suntech’s chief technology officer is Stuart Wenham who, unsurprisingly, is the director of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales. He stated the following about the solar energy potential:
This technology breakthrough marks another critical milestone in our effort to improve solar cell efficiency, which will ultimately make solar competitive with fossil fuels”.
He also added that:
Technology innovation is imbued in Suntech’s DNA and as a global solar technology leader, our more than 400 R&D professionals around the world, including Australia, are committed to continually improve how we harness solar energy”.
Key improvements have been made to the Pluto cell technology, and they consist of the incorporation of high-efficiency PERL cell technology when manufacturing the Pluto cell. This technology improves the rear surface design by reducing the metal/silicon combination area, while maintaining the remaining non-contacted area well-passivated.
Additionally, Suntech has introduced process changes that diminish the use of high temperatures, thus making it possible to apply the high efficiency processes to the most commonly used commercial wafers. Due to its laboratory success, Suntech wants to commercialise their technology.
This latest breakthrough shows how a collaboration can be very effective in delivering great technological results. Due to these results, the collaboration between Suntech and research institutes from around the world will continue. One example could be the extension of the collaboration through Suntech R&D Australia Pty, established in 2011, where the projects focus on implementing advanced cell technologies.
Wind Power in Brazil
Being one of the most powerful economies in the world, it is only natural that Brazil starts investing in renewable energy sources, given the country’s growing economy and industry sector. Brazil’s power companies, which include Eletrosul, have signed agreements to create a wind power research centre known as Centro de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em Energia Eolica do Sul (CPDEO-Sul).
The aim of this centre is to provide proper education and training to workers in the wind energy sector in Brazil’s southern state Rio Grande do Sul. The group incorporates the Union of wind power companies of Rio Grande do Sul (Sindieolica), the city of Rio Grande, three universities and the renewable energy NGO Instituto Ideal. Meetings will soon take place within these people in order to define the details of their activities, incorporating wind energy training courses and interaction with universities.
Training courses aim to prepare and develop a qualified workforce for Brazil’s emerging wind power industry and wind farm operators. During the past months the wind power industry started to get the attention it deserves. Swiss automation and power technology company ABB opened their fifth factory in Brazil in March 2014.
This last factory will be in charge of constructing wind power equipment for projects all over Latin America. The plant is part of a $200 million investment to help broaden ABB’s technology development and production capacity, in order to serve the increasing domestic demand, including here the wind power sector in Brazil. ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer has summarised this idea perfectly saying:
As one of the world’s leading economies, Brazil is a key market for ABB. We are very pleased to continue to support Brazil’s economic growth through infrastructure and industrialisation projects”.