Climate change set to help solar industry

While climate change will undoubtedly bring about more horrors than can be possibly shown in one Richard Attenborough nature series, there are some areas that could actually benefit.

In addition to opening shipping channels north of Canada and allowing the production of vintage wine varieties in Hull it seems that for certain parts of the world there are direct benefits.  The ones that are still above sea level, of course.

Ironically one of these is the solar energy industry, and scientists at the University of Leeds have given a clear glimpse into how solar energy could be affected.

According to one of the report authors, current climate models are now good enough to make accurate estimates of how the environment will change.

The team used predictive methods to work out temperatures and amounts of sunlight that are likely to change in the years between 2010-2080.

The findings showed that two types of solar technology, concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV) will both see substantial increases.

Of course, the amount of change will depend on location.  Europe, a pioneer of PV solar installations on a large scale, will be the biggest benefactor as the globe is sizzled to a crisp.

For PV it is expected that increased sunlight will amount to extra output of around 3.5 percent current energy generation.  For the UK though this is just 1.2 percent.

In China the increase will also be by a few percent, while there will be little change in Algeria and Australia.  In the west of the US, where the PV solar industry is expanding rapidly, it is expected that sunlight will actually decrease by a few percent.

For CSP, which uses fields of large mirrors to concentrate heat on a specific spot to generate energy, the changes were even more pronounced.

CSP output will increase by several percent in China, and a few percent in Algeria and Australia, while another decrease will be seen in the western US and Saudi Arabia.

As large scale CSP plants are planned over the next decades in North Africa this could have a significant effect on the amount of energy produced, as the technology is even more sensitive to climate change than PV.

According to the scientists, the increase in output from solar energy sources means that governments should throw more weight behind solar incentives which are being cut in various countries.

One of the researchers says the subsidies are even more essential, claiming that the study “further strengthens the case for research and investment in solar power today”.