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Power from the sun will be brought to more people around the world through the first photovoltaic (PV) test centre...
Power from the sun will be brought to more people around the world through the first photovoltaic (PV) test centre in the UK which was opened today by junior energy minister Richard Page.

Supported by DTI start-up funding of £175,000, the centre at Eversley, Hampshire, is being developed by IT Power, one of the world's leading renewable energy consultants.

Staff from developing countries will be trained at the centre in the effective use of PV equipment, particularly where they are bringing electricity to remote communities for the first time. It will also test and certify PV panels.

Mr Page said: 'Photovoltaics has the potential to provide a sustainable and pollution free energy resource for meeting our future energy needs.

'For example, the project at the University of Northumbria shows that office buildings in the future could generate about one-third of their electricity from PV.

'The real challenge though - and this centre will provide a unique British contribution - is to electrify the developing world. Two billion people are without access to electricity but it would be impractical to build power stations and to connect them all. PV can provide electricity for their basic needs such as lighting and water supply.

'The centre will provide training courses for installers, technicians and programme managers from around the world. Its test facility will also prove and demonstrate the performance and durability of solar products for global markets.

'British industry will also benefit in its quest to double its eight per cent share of this world market - a market predicted to be worth between £2bn and £5bn by the year 2010. Half of this will be for small off-grid systems such as pumping and lighting.

'Prototype solar powered lighting is being developed by the Intersolar Group under a contract from the World Bank, and BP Solar has won a multi-million pound contract for 6,000 solar energy modules for telecommunications upgrading along a 1,000km pipeline in Saudi Arabia.

'Thousands of solar devices are also in use in this country, powering navigation lights, traffic counters and weather stations.

'Remote areas are not the only locations where these devices can be used - I recommend that those sceptics who believe our climate cannot support PVs should take a train from Waterloo Station where they can see PV powered rail greasing equipment at the trackside.'

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