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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME


29 November 2010

Solar power on the agenda at COP16

The 16th Conference of Parties (COP16), taking place in Cancun between 29th November and 10th December, will see the solar industry unite for the second year running to demonstrate the potential of solar energy, and urge its accelerated use.

A coalition of over 40 solar and renewable energy companies will be represented in talks by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The coalition intends to discuss the impact solar energy can make on carbon emissions around the globe, along with the economic opportunities and jobs that could be created in the solar energy industry. The group will release the 2010 version of its report, "Seizing the Solar Solution: Combating Climate Change through accelerated deployment."

"The sun offers us today a unique way of generating electricity on a global scale, making it possible to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the added benefit of being socially responsible, generating jobs and supporting sustainable development," said Adel El Gammal, Secretary General of the EPIA, and contributing author in the 2010/2011 Climate Action publication, in an official press release on Friday.

Mr El Gammal believes solar energy will bridge the gap between the developed and developing nations by removing the reliance on traditional, dirty sources of energy, which many countries have to import.

"This will allow developing nations to leapfrog past conventional energy dependency to a clean and unlimited source that can also easily reach under-served populations in rural areas," Gammal said.

With solar energy on the COP16 agenda, talks may include the prospect of greater collaboration in the renewable energy sector between developed and developing nations. One such example is between Italy and Mexico, who have developed the first thin-film solar technology project.

On 21st November 2010 the Italian company Enel launched a solar power plant, designed to provide one of the COP16 venues, the Moon palace Hotel in Cancun, with renewable energy. Enel installed 2,500m2 of high-tech photovoltaic (PV) cells on the roof. It should reduce the CO2 burden by 110 tonnes per year and help to offset the environmental impact of the conference. This collaboration between a private company and the government of a developing nation has been seen as a breakthrough which could form the basis of other projects.

"Enel (Green Power) has access to the technologies and the know-how necessary to lead the development of the renewable energy sector. This project combines a cutting-edge technology with a mechanism of co-operation between the public and private sectors. The result is an innovative project that allows us to test a solar business model, which could also be replicated in other areas of the country," Nicola Melchiotti, Country Manager of Enel Green Power in Mexico, said in an interview with newswiretoday.com.

The PV panels on the roof of the Moon Palace Hotel capture light and can generate power under harsh climatic conditions. They are also resistant to inclement weather, such as hurricanes, which are common occurrences in Mexico. In preparation for the UN summit, an online Solar Petition has also been launched. After COP16, the Solar Petition will be sent to key political leaders. Together with the petition and the list of supporters, they will receive a Solar Dancing Flower to remind them of the power of the sun.

All funds generated from the production of the solar flowers will be donated to Solar Solidarity, a non-governmental organisation, active in the promotion of projects for the developing world using renewable technology--solar in particular.

Indications are that solar energy is here for the long haul. In October, the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar energy research organisation, released a report entitled: "National Solar Jobs Census 2010: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce." The report found that over the next 12 months, more than 50 per cent of solar firms expected to add jobs, with only two per cent of firms expecting to cut workers. The Solar Census states that more than half the solar industry employers questioned planned to increase their workforce in the next year, which translates into about 24,000 net new jobs by August 2011.

Author: Leroy Robinson | Cimate Action

Image: Jeff Kubina | Flickr

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