Where is Solar Energy used?

Map of the world

This is where Solar Energy is used most in the World

While the sun is a continuous and powerful source of energy, the question is where is solar energy used here on earth? Solar cells and solar panels allow us to harness that energy, offering renewable methods of generating electricity. The opportunities solar power presents has made it the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity, after hydro and wind.

However, some countries have taken advantage of this technology more than others. But where is solar energy used most? This handy guide will reveal which countries use solar power the most and why, so that hopefully we can learn from their actions.

Which countries have the highest installed solar power capacity?

Country

Annual Installed Capacity 

Cumulative Installed Capacity

China

15,15 GW

43,53 GW

Germany

1,45 GW

39,7 GW

Japan

11 GW

34,41 GW

United States

7,3 GW

25,62 GW

Italy

300 MW

18,92 GW

United Kingdom

3,51 GW

8,78 GW

France

879 MW

6,58 GW

Spain

56 MW

5,44 GW

Australia

935 MW

5,07 GW

India

2 GW

5,05 GW

Table 1: Annual and Cumulative Installed PV Power 2015 - "Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets"(PDF) report. International Energy Agency. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.

Why is China Number one in the world?

Map of the world focussing on China

When you consider how large the Chinese solar power industry is, it makes sense that China has the highest installed solar power capacity in the world. Solar power is one of the biggest industries in mainland China, and globally China is the world's largest market for both photovoltaics and solar energy. China has been the primary installer of solar photovoltaics, which absorb the sun's light to create electricity, in the world since 2013, with over 400 solar PV companies in China. In 2015 China reached a photovoltaic installed capacity of 43 GW, setting it on track to be the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power. China also dominate the market for solar heating, achieving a total installed capacity of 290 GW by the end of 2014, 70% of the world's total installed solar thermal capacity.

China shows no signs of slowing down in their quest for solar power supremacy, as evidenced by its consistent increase of its annual and short-term targets. China has set itself an ambitious target of installing 150 GW of solar power by 2020. Its solar capacity target for 2017 is 70GW.

Germany in second place

Map of the world focussing on Germany

Like China, Germany's success in the solar power market is helped by setting ambitious but achievable goals. The government have set a target to reach a 35% share of renewable electricity in the country, which Germany is on target to achieve, with the current share being around 31%. Other long term minimum targets include a 50% share by 2030 and 80% by 2050. More and more, Germany is producing more electricity than it requires, driving down spot-market prices and exporting the extra electricity to neighbouring countries.

Germany is not far behind China, whose solar power consists almost entirely of photovoltaics. Germany was the world leader of photovoltaic capacity since 2005, with a total installed capacity that added up to 40,490 megawatts by the end of September 2016. Photovoltaics are responsible for 6% of Germany's energy demands.

You wouldn't think that Germany has the second highest installed solar power capacity, especially when it's nowhere near the sunniest country in the world. But the substantial growth of solar power is largely due to Germany's feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, which were introduced by the German Renewable Energy Sources Act. Since 2006, prices have decreased by more than 50% in five years.

And in third place - Japan

Map of the world focussing on Japan

As the fourth largest energy consumer in the world, solar power is very important to Japan. The 2011 disaster at Fukushima has also nudged policy towards renewable energy. Since the late 1990’s, Japan's solar power capabilities have been increasing. It has long been a major photovoltaics (PV) manufacturer and is in the top five countries with the most domestic PV systems installed, with 4,914 MW installed by the end of 2011, with most of it grid connected.

With financial incentives such as feed-in tariff schemes, Germany can be seen as the country where solar energy is used the most. Emulating Germany’s actions and goals, the rest of the world can also benefit in their own development of solar power capacities.

CREDITS:

Solar power by country. (2016, November 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:11, November 22, 2016.

Solar power in China. (2016, November 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:31, November 22, 2016. 

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