Solar pioneer calls for more PV communication

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He’s been called the "father of photovoltaics" or a "solar superhero", but whatever the title, Australian crystalline-silicon photovoltaic researcher Martin Green has made a major contribution to the photovoltaic industry. In a recent visit to Germany, Green made the call for more work to be done by the photovoltaic industry in publicizing the technology’s potential as a major source of electricity in the future.

Green made the comments, in an interview with pv magazine, the day before speaking at the Australia-Germany Solar Future Forum at the Australian Embassy, Berlin.

"I think it’s really important that we get the message to those involved in the power industry, because many of those have a misconception about the power of photovoltaics and its operating characteristics and so on." Green set out how the example being set by Germany, where record amounts of electricity are being fed into the grid from photovoltaics, supplying 10 percent of Germany’s electricity requirements in May, as demonstrating the significant contribution photovoltaics can play in the energy mix today.

The softly-spoken researcher also set out how photovoltaic production in May matched the energy demand profile in Germany, demonstrating that grid integration fears may be overinflated. "I think there are technical solutions to it [grid integration]. I think just having a smarter inverter can overcome a lot of the issues with grid instability and that’s probably the way that things will go."

PR needed to grow large-scale PV in Australia

Looking at photovoltaics in his home country – where retail grid parity is understood to have arrived for much of the country – Green said that for large-scale photovoltaics to be widely deployed, there needs to be a "political push" on the back of greater understanding amongst the populous. "There needs to be some kind of new initiative […], the world more widely being alerted to the possibilities of photovoltaics and there being more publicity regarding the potential of the technology, to cause a new push for it in Australia."

Green also made the observation that the present tough times for photovoltaic manufacturers are due to a "lag" in demand, while public consciousness about photovoltaic affordability and potential catches up with current production volumes. A recent survey, by equipment suppliers Applied Materials, has found that there is a lack of consumer understanding regarding photovoltaics.

At last week’s Intersolar Europe, pv magazine launched its "Solar Superhero" campaign, which attempts to tackle a number of myths commonly raised by those who doubt photovoltaic’s potential.

The August edition of pv magazine will feature the full interview with Martin Green.