China has surpassed Germany as having the largest amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations. According to the National Energy Administration, the Asian country has total installed capacity of 43.2 gigawatts. Much of this capacity (15.1 GW) was installed in  2015. China’s solar PV capacity has increased roughly 13-fold since just 2011. Germany currently possesses around 38.4 GW of solar PV capacity according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance or 39.6 GW according to Germany’s Federal Network Agency. The US is currently in third place— with 27.8 GW of generation capacity installed.

Global solar PV projects now in progress exceeds 200 gigawatts according to new data from IHS. The US, China and Brazil account for 110 GW, or half of the current solar PV projects under consideration. Two-thirds of these projects are over 50 MW in size.

The US state of California has more solar capacity than the rest of the country combined, with 52% of solar PV and 73% of thermal solar (concentrated solar) installations. For the US as a whole, solar’s share of electricity generation is about 2.5%, reflecting the intermittent nature of solar resources.

France’s minister of Ecology and Energy announced that over the next five years his nation will pave 621 miles of road with solar panels in an effort to provide five million residents (about 8% of the country’s population) with electricity. Construction of the solar paneled roads, known as the “Wattway”, will begin this spring.   The panels are approximately a quarter of an inch thick and can withstand heavy highway traffic without cracking or making the roads more slick. They are designed so that they can be directly installed on the surface of existing roadways, which makes them easier and cheaper to install. Due to the fact that the panels are thin, they can adapt to minor changes in the pavement surface, which result from shifts in temperature. In November of last year, a solar paneled bike path, measuring 229 feet, was unveiled in the Netherlands.

The world’s largest wind farm is to be built in the waters of the northern UK coast 120 km from Yorkshire. The 1.2 gigawatt project is expected to provide electric power to more than a million UK homes. The Hornsea project will be made up of 7 megawatt wind turbines, the largest generally available, each more than 190 metres (623 feet) high. The project is expected to start operation in 2020.

Wind energy accounted for 44% of all new electric power installations in the European Union last year, connecting a total of 12.8 gigawatts to the grid. Onshore wind contributed 9.8 GW and offshore wind 3 GW. Total wind capacity in Europe now amounts to 142 GW with the capability of supplying 11.4% of European electricity needs. Almost half of the new wind installations in 2015 were in Germany, followed by Poland and France.

In 2015 renewable energy sources accounted for 77% of new electric power plant installations in the European Union or 22.3 gigawatts out of a total electric power installation of 29 GW.

Low cost UK airline, EasyJet, announced it will begin testing hydrogen fuel cells to power its flights. The airline expects the fuel cells will allow its planes to taxi to and from runways without using any conventional fuels. By using fuel cells, it hopes to be able to save 50,000 tons of conventional fuel every year. The plane will operate with a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor. The plane generates electrical power by braking on landing and this energy can be stored in batteries that are located on the plane and can also be used to produce hydrogen fuel.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,