CNN) -- Which country boasts the world's fastest growing clean energy investment? Germany? No. United States? Think again.
Jumping from a few hundred million dollars to $5.7 billion, South Africa recorded last year the world's highest growth in renewable energy investment, according to the U.N. Environment Program(UNEP).
The spectacular surge, led largely by investments in solar power projects, comes as South Africa moves to reduce its dependency on coal, which accounts for around 86% of its energy. To achieve that, the country has set the ambitious target of generating 18 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy by 2030.
As a result, a series of investments have trickled into the country, including Google's first foray into Africa's solar power market. The internet giant, which has spent more than $1 billion in renewable energy projects in the United States and Europe in recent years, announced in late May its decision to back the Jasper Power Project, a 96 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Northern Cape, with a $12 million investment.
From the small, ancient Turkish town of Burdur comes exciting news in solar today.
Burdur happens to be one of the oldest settlements in the world, dating back to 7000 BC, centred around a spectacular lake. How ironic that such a place has become home to the largest roof mounted solar system in this country, which thus far has rarely featured in the world of solar. According to the EPIA, Turkey had an installed capacity of around 16MW in 2012, but could leap to between 60 and 250MW by the end of this year, on the back of a desperate need for new capacity.
Installed in May this year and recently commissioned, the 495kW roof top project adds more than 3% to National PV capacity and was developed by a consortium including Turkish based Solimpeks (who also have an office here focused on PV Hybrid products), Panasonic and local project manager Seiso Solar.
With an average of 2,640 hours of sunshine a year, Turkey offers excellent conditions for solar energy. At the same time, however, the dry, hot climate can cause module performance to drop. “HIT modules are based on a sandwich construction of hybrid monocrystalline wafers coated with a thin amorphous silicon,” explained Daniel Roca, Business Developer Solar with Panasonic. “Thanks to their special technology, they offer a temperature coefficient of -0,29%/°C – performing considerably better at high temperatures than other, conventional crystalline silicon modules“
The energy is used by a local marble factory, an energy intensive industry which the region is famous for. Turkey released new regulations which loosened up license requirements for power generation up to 1 MW, a lesson Australian regulators could learn much from if we are to see more large-scale PV in our country. Turkey currently offers approximately 0,10 €/kWh for any excess that is fed into the grid; slightly higher than what most business pay for electricity according to 2011 statistics we found on European electricity pricing.
Now, to just work out how to get some solar made, Turkish marble into Australia, my backyard and build an eco turkish bath, heated with PVT!
Saving Lives Through Saving Energy energybiz Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit of a sustainable energy future, but it's not being harvested to anything like the extent it needs to be across our nation.