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Each week we share the top sustainability news stories from around the world. Here’s this week’s round up:

This week we explore how solar energy is heating up around the world, a controversial proposal for a wind farm in western Ireland, and how a tool is helping researchers and scientists track ocean pollution in near real-time.

Solar Energy Heats Up Job Market Across The Globe

The world is seeing a massive uptick in interest for solar energy. This means millions of workers stand to benefit from new jobs in the solar industry, according to a new report. With climate targets signed into law, countries are turning to renewable energy and looking to start decreasing their carbon emissions as quickly as possible.

In Germany alone, solar power systems with a total capacity of 5 gigawatts were installed in 2020, and that capacity is expected to grow. Studies indicate that expansion would have to be increased six-fold to 30 gigawatts per year in order to keep warming to 1.5 degrees celsius this century. This expansion and demand means more manpower will be needed in the future. One German solar install company had a little over 1,000 employees in 2017, today their company is close to 3,000 and still growing. Engineers, financial experts, skilled personnel for project development and people with technical training are being recruited.


As of 2019, around 11.5 million people worldwide were working in the renewable energy sector, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). More than a third directly worked with photovoltaics, the material on the panels that collects the energy.

Solar is seeing a big uptick even over other renewable energy sources in some places. In Los Angeles, California, drought is having an impact on the amount of hydropower that can be produced as water levels decrease, which is having an adverse effect on other energy sources the region needs. Extreme weather is leaving cities scrambling for more solar as it can be implemented a lot quicker than other renewable sources. The demand for solar and the surplus of jobs in solar should see a consistent increase in the coming years.

Western Ireland Group Says County Already Saturated With Wind Turbines

The proposed development of a new wind farm in the western county of Clare in Ireland is earmarked for an area already “saturated” with wind turbines, a local opposition group has said. MCRE Windfarm has lodged a planning application for the construction of ten 170 metre high wind turbines in phase two of the Cahermurphy wind farm. Currently, there are 107 operational industrial wind turbines within a 12 kilometre radius of the proposed site, with planning permission already granted for another 30 turbines. 


While this opposition group is fighting against it, there is a huge silent majority who support the projects and the money saved in renewable energy. There are 5,000 homes within the 12 kilometre radius with only 104 objections with many living in the same house. While some believe that being located near wind farms will increase long-term devaluation of homes, no evidence around the country or rest of the world has supported this. The local council has indicated that the project will positively benefit the community’s environment and contribute around €350,000.

The county has seen a massive renewable energy push over the past few years. Most notably, Ireland’s largest electricity generation station and only coal-fired power station located in the county has begun a transformation into a green energy hub. When complete, the project will have the capacity to power 1.6 million homes. This is one of the windiest parts of the country being situated on the Atlantic Ocean and stands to generate much energy from wind. A decision will be made on the project next week.

Researchers Track Ocean Pollution In Near Real-Time

EU-funded researchers have developed a device that can detect traces of marine pollutants and send real-time alerts. This time saving method could bring huge benefits to the seafood industry and environmental authorities, who can take quick and decisive action. The project designed an instrument that can be installed on an ocean buoy and from there analyse seawater quality, delivering alerts through a wireless connection in around two hours. SMS (Sensing toxicants in marine waters makes sense using biosensors) project brought together scientists, SMEs and environmental agencies to develop a cost-effective, easy to use monitoring device that can deliver real-time results.


“This prototype device capable of monitoring different algal species and related toxins, all from the same sensory platform, has been our key achievement,’ says SMS project coordinator Prof. Konstantinos Petropoulos from the University of Roma II in Italy. “We are confident that seafood industries as well as environmental control authorities now have the potential to take advantage of this new technology, in order to protect human health and safety.”

All data collected is stored locally in coastal buoys and platforms before being forwarded to a remote central node. This allows competent authorities and professionals to make informed and quick ocean management decisions.

Tune in next week for another round of sustainability news from around the world.