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EPIA organises its first international Thin Film ConferenceMore than 300 experts from the thin film sector are expected to gather in Munich on November 13 for the first European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) International Thin Film Conference. {pagebreak}With a growing demand for PV products in the European and American markets, all technological solutions are expanding and thin film has become particularly strong. This first conference aims to provide a dedicated international discussion platform for the photovoltaic Thin Film industry.According to EPIA projections, 4 GW of thin film production capacity is expected to be available by the end of 2010. This would represent 20 per cent of the overall PV module capacity. Questions that aim to be addressed by the conference include the potential for cost reduction offered by Thin Film technologies and the ability to reach grid parity by a quicker means.The conference will present the current state of the PV thin film sector and provide an insight into global market trends, the latest technological achievements, successful investments in the sector and a full analysis, from material and equipment suppliers to module manufacturers.A detailed programme and all information are available on this dedicated website: www.thinfilmconference.org 

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Excessive bureaucracy and long waits to connect plants to the grid is slowing down the potential for enormous growth in Italy's solar energy market.Although the country is a solar power hot spot, with 17,000 plants tapping its plentiful sunlight, approval for such plants can drag very slowly, taking months of painstaking decision-making.{pagebreak}"The local impact of a big plant is looked at with much, much tension," said Stefano Neri, chairman and chief executive of solar power company TerniEnergia SpA.The wave of requests for hook-ups to the grid has swamped utilities, leading to complaints and months of delays.An ongoing investigation launched last year by the national power authority showed that it took 97 days on average to hook up renewable energy plants, including solar, in the period from May 2006 to October 2007."It seems to me that Italy should look to be one of the top, if not the top, country in terms of photovoltaic development in the next few years," said Domenico Inglieri, a board member at the GIFI association of Italian photovoltaic companies.Since the end of 2006, Italy has nearly quadrupled its solar energy capacity to 197 megawatts, enough to power about 100,000 homes. With 12,200 new producers online

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A warning not to undermine EU support for renewables has been sounded by a wind energy trade body in a letter to a French minister.The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has expressed its concern about a proposed ‘review clause' {pagebreak}in the Renewable Energy Directive, and underlined the importance of priority grid access for renewables in an open letter to French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.A ‘review clause' is currently being debated in Council as part of the Renewable Energy Directive. The clause would introduce a review, in 2014, of whether the flexibility mechanisms were ensuring that the Member States were meeting their targets. The EWEA says this could undermine stable national support mechanisms, market stability and investor certainty, as well as discourage Member States from ensuring adequate domestic investments before the results of such a review were known."EWEA strongly opposes a review clause evaluating the implementation of the Directive, in particular with regard to whether the flexibility mechanisms are ensuring that Member States reach their national targets," says the letter."Member States will fulfil the majority of their national targets on the basis of domestic effort, not flexibility mechanisms. Such a review clause:• would introduce a disincentive for Member States to ensure adequate

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Euro MPs have dealt a blow to plans for a new generation of coal-fired power stations after voting for tough curbs to reduce their emissions.The MEPs want to force energy companies to fit expensive equipment to trap the emissions, the limit of which is the same as that set by California - 500 grams of CO2 per kilowatt/hour. Anti-coal campaigners in the US claim this has effectively outlawed coal power being sold to the state.{pagebreak}However the committee also voted for a €10bn (£7.8bn) fund to pay for trials of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which could trap most emissions. This could enable some coal stations to be built, using the EU funds to pay for the massive expected costs of CCS.The amendments to the draft Directive on Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide still have to pass at least two further levels. One is the European council of environment ministers, where there is likely to be strong lobbying by some states, including coal-rich Poland. But environment campaigners hailed the decision as a "huge development".Development charity Oxfam said the new emissions performance standard, which would apply to all power stations from 2015, would "rule out" plans for the first new

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Fears that wildlife, particularly birds, is affected by wind farms have been allayed in a new study which shows that turbines have little impact on them."This should be welcome news for nature conservationists, wind energy companies and policy-makers", {pagebreak}the report from the UK's Newcastle University said, adding that carbon-free wind power is also helping to fight global warming.When wind power was in its infancy three decades ago, some groups raised concerns that endlessly whirling turbines could kill massive numbers of birds.The siting of some early wind farms, especially on migratory routes in the United States, did result in an unusually high number of bird deaths. However, much has been done since then to make wind farms far less threatening to avian species.Mark Whittingham, the study team leader, said: "This is the first evidence suggesting that the present and future location of large numbers of wind turbines on European farmland is unlikely to have detrimental effects on farmland birds."The study said the 16 wind turbines monitored did not affect the distribution of four groups of wintering farmland birds (seed-eaters, corvids, gamebirds and Eurasian skylarks). Monitoring the four groups at differing distances from the turbines, the study found no evidence to suggest

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An end to the use of fossil fuels needs to happen in the UK within 20 years, the government's climate change watchdog has warned.The independent Climate Change Committee also says the government should set a 2050 target of cutting all greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent - including those from aviation and transport, which were previously excluded. {pagebreak}Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, the committee chairman, said that because it is unlikely that emissions from aviation and shipping will be cut so dramatically, other sectors, particularly power generation, would have to reduce emissions by much more, with big increases in energy efficiency, wind and tide power."We have to almost totally decarbonise the power sector by 2030, well before 2050," he said.The committee says the far-reaching changes would cost about 1-2% of the value of the economy in 2050, although growth would still be strong.Ed Miliband, the new energy and climate secretary, welcomed the report. He said: "We need to act now to avoid dangerous climate change and the action we take must be guided by experts. This is a pressing issue and we'll respond to the recommendations swiftly. The hard work will be for us all to make emission

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Almost all businesses in the UK are unaware of an incentive scheme to help improve energy efficiency, according to new industry research.The survey involving 1,300 businesses across offices, retail and leisure, conducted by Daikin UK, revealed that 92 per cent companies are currently unaware of the Government's Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme set up to aid investment in modern energy efficient technology. {pagebreak}Daikin warns that this lack of awareness may be slowing the adoption rate by businesses in new technology that would help bring both significant energy efficiency savings and also lower operational costs."In the face of rising energy costs and the need to reduce carbon emissions, businesses are being forced to become more energy efficient," said Mark Dyer, marketing manager for Daikin UK. "Yet it seems we could clearly be doing more to encourage investment in new energy saving technology by raising awareness of the ECA. It was certainly staggering to see that such a large percentage of businesses are still not aware of the financial support that is available through the ECA scheme."Daikin's survey also revealed that modern heating and cooling technology is one important area where businesses could be failing to improve efficiency.

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A senior Chinese climate change advisor has broken ranks to criticise his country's stance on global warming as its economy develops.Hu Angang, a public policy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, has urged China to act on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, even as the government says it should not assume international obligations to curb carbon dioxide and other pollutants stoking global warming.{pagebreak}Hu said global climate talks culminating in Copenhagen late next year could be a final opportunity for the planet to avoid calamitous damage from more extreme storms, droughts and floods."I think the Copenhagen summit is a last chance not only for China but also for the world," he said. "Don't think that if China does not participate and assume obligations then it can avoid disaster."China should act even if rich nations drag their feet, because its geography leaves it especially vulnerable to drought, rising seas and other ravages of a changing climate, he added.Hu, 55, has long helped shape Chinese development policy, submitting advice to top leaders.But his advocacy of steep, mandatory cuts to its emissions by as soon as 2010 puts him at odds with his government's insistence that poorer countries should not take on such caps any

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A government survey of energy trends in the UK has revealed that Scotland generates twice as much wind energy as England.The quarterly survey, published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform throws up a number of interesting statistics in relation to renewables in the UK.{pagebreak}And while Scotland has greater renewables generating capacity than England, England actually generates more electricity from renewables than Scotland. This is because biofuels based capacity (the most common source in England) is used more intensively than hydro and wind (which predominate in Scotland).In Wales generation from wind was three times the generation from natural flow hydro, and Wales generates more electricity from wind than any English region. In 2007 Scotland generated almost twice as much electricity from wind as England did, and three times as much as WalesIn England the regions with the largest generation from wind in 2007 (including offshore wind with landfall in that region) were the North West, the East, and the South East, while the same three regions also had the largest generation from landfill gas. 

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Shares in a Scottish wind farm have exceeded market expectations, raising more than £1.25 million of investment.The Great Glen Wind Farm Co-op share offer closed recently, and delighted investors by surpassing its target by more than five times. The scheme is being run by Energy4All, a not-for-profit company set up to spearhead community-owned renewable energy schemes.{pagebreak}The company's latest offering is an investment opportunity in Scotland's largest wind farm co-op. The Kilbraur Wind Energy Co-op share offer has now launched and will remain open until the 24th October.Energy4All's launch of the new arm of its organization; Energy4All Scotland has been initiated to develop community ownership of renewable energy projects from a uniquely Scottish perspective.A key project to be progressed by Energy4All Scotland will be the Caledonia Renewable Energy Co-operative. Caledonia, a Scotland-wide Co-op will enable anyone in Scotland to invest in a portfolio of renewable projects - from wind to hydro and biomass. Energy4All Scotland has launched a ‘call for projects' where landowners, communities and developers are invited to add their project to the Caledonia portfolio. By joining this initiative, individual developers can receive an ethical investment from within Scotland and extend the opportunity for local people to create a Co-op.

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