Senegalese-American singer Akon came to prominence in the early 2000s. Photo credit: Tony Felgueiras/Flickr

It’s Wednesday, it’s winter and you’re at your desk feeling glum.

But wait! Here’s five energy stories making news overseas that will inspire you and restore your hope in humanity.

  1. American singer and hip-hop artist Akon has opened a solar academy in Mali, PV Magazine reports. The academy will teach students how to install and maintain solar-powered electricity systems and micro grids.
    The academy is the latest addition to the Akon Lighting Africa initiative which aims to bring solar electricity to 600 million Africans. Akon Lighting Africa is present in 14 African countries and since it launched last year it has provided solar power to more than 1 million households.
    Read the full story.
  2. The London Fire Brigade has unveiled 156 electric-vehicle charging points at 76 fire stations and other sites across the city, Edie.net reports. Nine of the stations will make their charging points open to the public, as part of the brigade’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
    The Brigade currently uses five electric cars through its lease car scheme and hopes to have a further five in its fleet towards the end of year. Read the full story.
  3. Solar PV panels lie flush with the roof. Photo: Solarcentury

    A new solar panel product aims to fix the “ugliness” of solar panels, Treehugger.com reports. Whether it’s neighbourhood associations banning panels or competing views about solar on historic listed buildings, the fact remains that however shallow, some people don’t buy them because they don’t look nice. This week Solarcentury launched “Sunstation” – a building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system that is black in colour and sits flush with the line of your roof.  Read the full story.

  4. Record-breaking figures from the UK renewables sector have prompted fresh calls for the UK government to reconsider its proposed end to onshore wind subsidies, edie.net reports. Renewable energy provided 43% of UK electricity at last Saturday – a new high.
    WWF Scotland reported that wind power output north of the border saw a year-on-year bump of 83% in May. WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said strong winds during May meant enough clean energy was generated to supply 47% of Scotland’s electricity demand for the whole month. He said cutting support for the lowest cost renewable technology would be a backwards step that would see consumer bills rise or climate targets missed. Read the full story.
  5. A group of UK scientists, economists and businessmen have launched an ambitious program to make renewable energy sources cheaper than coal within 10 years, PV magazine reports.
    The Global Apollo program is calling for an average $23 billion investment annually to be spent on research and development in solar and wind energy, energy storage, nuclear power, energy efficiency and carbon capture storage.
    A number of countries have expressed interest in the Apollo Plan, including officials in the US, India, Japan and China. Read the full story.