Is Solar Energy Popular? Just How Big Is It?

November 21st, 2010

Japan, Germany and USA
These three countries have the most residential and industrial photovoltaic units worldwide, due to having the world’s largest governmental incentives used for renewable energy systems. In Japan and Germany, the most popular are grid-tied units, while in the US – the off-grid ones. Japan and Germany lead in terms of panels installed per person.

Germany has around 1,500 MW of PV units installed throughout the country, which equals around 1% of the total electricity produced in the country. This number is predicted to reach 25% by 2050.

China produces 30% of the world’s solar. Right now, the capacity of installed panels in China is around 50 MW. The government is planning to increase these numbers to 20 GW by the year 2020 (renewable energy is predicted to produce 15% of the country’s total energy in the next decade).

Australia currently produces over 100 MW of PV generated energy (that’s merely 0.1% of the country’s total electric production). Australia is perfect for photovoltaic installations, so why isn’t’ solar energy popular here? This is because these systems are very costly here. The country plans to build one of the largest solar plants, which will produce 450 MW of power, enough to power 45,000 homes.

Canada uses PV energy mainly for space heating and water heating. It has over 15,000 residential and over 300 industrial solar water heating systems. Canada mainly uses standalone off-grid units.

Israel has no oil and strained relations with the neighbors that do. They are searching for renewable energy solutions to become independent. The country has lots of sunshine and uses the suns energy mainly for water heaters.

Solar energy is also widely used in developing countries. For example, there is a large market for photovoltaic units in Kenya, where customer use entry-level modules for their needs.

India uses both – grid-tied and off-grid systems. India also employs the power of the sun in solar cookers, water heaters, water pumps, and off-grid sun-powered street lighting systems. Most of the country doesn’t have access to an electric grid, making solar power here very practical. Over 16,000 PV home systems were financed for homes in rural areas.

This Asian country uses domestic PV systems, especially in the homes that don’t have access to regular electricity. There are special programs that subsidize “solar home systems” in this country. These systems employ a panel mounted on the rooftop and can power several lights, TV, radio and a cell phone, and provide about 50 W of electricity in direct sunlight.

Pakistan has 10 hours of sunlight per day on average, making the use of solar energy popular here as well. The country already has some sun powered plants, and is a perfect place for the photovoltaic technology to expand.


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