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New test site for double-sided solar panels unveiled in Kilkenny

This week in future tech, Elgin Energy has unveiled the first double-sided solar panel test site in Ireland on a Kilkenny dairy farm.

With the aim of harvesting more solar energy for renewable electricity, Elgin Energy has deployed a test site for the first bifacial module – otherwise known as double-sided solar panels – in Ireland. The test site was installed on a dairy farm in Skeoughvosteen, Co Kilkenny, and is part of a partnership with panel manufacturer Longi and inverter manufacturer SolarEdge.

The project hopes to examine the production profile of bifacial panels in Ireland and conduct a direct comparison of energy output from monofacial and bifacial panels. Based on research elsewhere in the world, the partners have found that there could be up to a 10pc uplift in bifacial output versus monofacial.

“We are very excited to launch this local research project in collaboration with Longi and SolarEdge,” said Ronan Kilduff, managing director of Elgin Energy.

“This test site is the first of its kind in Ireland and will provide data that will help to inform the Irish solar industry and our development across Ireland and the UK.”

UK pumps £10m into commercial quantum computer

The UK government confirmed the country’s first quantum computer available for commercial use will be built in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, backed by a £10m investment from government and industry.

The new quantum computer will be developed by Rigetti Computing, which also developed a cloud-based platform allowing computer programmers to write quantum algorithms. It will work alongside Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Bristol and London-based quantum software start-up Phasecraft, as well as the University of Edinburgh.

“Our ambition is to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, which could provide UK businesses and industries with billions of pounds worth of opportunities,” said the country’s science minister, Amanda Solloway.

“Therefore, I am delighted that companies across the country will have access to our first commercial quantum computer, to be based in Abingdon.”

The minister also announced the launch of the UK’s National Quantum Computer Centre, first promised back in 2018 as part of a £93m investment.

ICHEC opens pan-European competence centre

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has officially opened the Euro High-Performance Competence Centre (EuroCC), which it will host for the next two years. The €57m European project aims to accelerate the preparedness of researchers seeking access to the European supercomputing network and help SMEs adopt the latest technologies.

“This is a Europe-wide approach to high-performance computing investment by facilitating closer coordination of all participating states in the realms of infrastructure, technology development and the development of advanced software,” said ICHEC director JC Desplat.

“Ireland understands the imperative of fully leveraging strategic initiatives such as EuroHPC, which have the potential to position the country’s very best researchers on a level playing field with their peers in the EU and beyond.”

4.4m charging points in Europe and North America by 2024

While the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points in Europe and North America totalled approximately 900,000 in 2019, Berg Insight predicts this number could be 4.4m by 2024.

Europe represents the largest share, with around 600,000 of these charging points, corresponding to a connectivity penetration rate of 46pc, the market analysts said. In North America, about 300,000 of the total number of charging points were connected, equivalent to a connectivity penetration rate of 35pc.

“The number of connected charging points has in the last year grown significantly, and as long as the EV fleet continues to grow rapidly the demand for connected charging stations will be steady,” said Adam Bjorkman, an IoT analyst at Berg Insight.

“The number of connected home charging stations is still relatively limited in both regions, but expected to increase in parallel to the general trend of our homes becoming smarter.”

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