While the world is transitioning to a green economy, many are still wondering how much solar energy is used in the world on a daily basis. Thanks to technology, the answer is becoming more clear. Here’s a closer look at how much solar energy is used in the world and why more countries are choosing to adopt solar power.
How Much Does World Use?
The world’s first grid-connected solar power plant was built in 1972 in Port Augusta, Australia and generated 10 kW of electricity. Since then, the technology has grown leaps and bounds and today there are over 1.7 million solar power plants generating 3.7 billion kWh per year. That’s over 10 million times more energy than was produced in the entire country just 40 years ago!
China leads the way in regards to installed capacity with 77 GW of solar power. The country’s solar industry grew 79% in 2017 and has an estimated value of US$26.9 billion. The country has the most installed solar capacity in the world with over 40 GW, followed by Spain (17 GW) and Italy (16 GW).
What Will it Take To Reach 100 GW Of Solar Energy Installation?
According to the Global Solar Observatory, it will take around 108 GW of new solar power plants to reach 100 GW of cumulative installed capacity. Based on trends and data from 120 countries, the report states that we’re on the right track to hitting this target. Between now and 2050, the global energy infrastructure will need to grow by 36 percent to accommodate this demand.
This data is pretty staggering, but it also makes one thing very clear – the world is headed towards a green transformation, one that benefits all sectors and especially the environment.
Why More Countries Are Choosing To Adopt Solar Energy
Thanks to falling solar prices and technological advancements, more countries are looking towards renewables like solar energy. In fact, over 80 nations now have some sort of incentive program for installing solar power plants. As previously stated, the technology has grown considerably since its inception in the 1970s. It is now more affordable than ever before and provides many benefits to both individuals and the environment.
Installing solar power plants on a large scale is no longer considered expensive. The Global Solar Observatory reports that the cost of solar electricity has dropped 78% in the last five years and will continue to decline. The price per kWh is now under US$0.15, making this form of power very appealing to developing countries. Many see it as a path to independence and a way to reduce their reliance on expensive fossil fuels. It also helps to fight climate change.
Solar power plants provide numerous benefits, but perhaps the biggest one is how they regulate the power supply. In areas where solar energy produces more electricity than is needed, it can be stored for later use. This helps reduce or eliminate power outages which are incredibly disruptive to daily life, especially in areas where power is regulated by the government or large corporations. Disruptive power outages are not only bad for individuals, but for businesses too. Outages mean clients can’t contact the company, orders can’t be filled and employees can’t get their work done. All of this results in significant financial losses.
More Than Meets The Eye
If we compare the U.S. to other countries, the differences are stark. In fact, the U.S. only produces around 3.7 million kWh per year compared to the 77 GW produced in China. Not only is the U.S. energy usage much less than China, but it also uses very little power. The reason for this is that the majority of power in the U.S. is generated by hydroelectric dams which only produce power when there’s sufficient rainfall. The dams charge when there’s electricity demand and provide energy during off-peak hours. This is very different from the majority of power plants around the world which run on polluting fossil fuels and produce power regardless of demand.
A Game Changer
Nuclear energy also plays a key role in generating electricity, however, this form of power is expensive and highly polluting. While it has generated energy for decades and continues to do so, it is by no means a sustainable form of power. In fact, it’s the opposite – when we consider the cost in human, financial and environmental terms, it’s clear that it’s not the best option.
Hydroelectric dams are a vital part of our energy landscape. They provide us with cheap and reliable electricity whilst also storing large amounts of water for use later. They are also a major contributor to climate change. It’s no wonder why countries like Costa Rica, Paraguay and Norway have put into place regulations prohibiting the construction of new hydroelectric dams. With more and more countries facing energy shortages, clean and green alternatives are becoming more appealing.
The global price of solar energy has fallen dramatically in the last decade. It’s now possible to buy a large solar power plant for less than a million dollars. If you want to generate your own power and don’t want to rely on the government or large corporations for energy, solar technology is the answer. Not only is it a cheap and reliable power source, but it also provides a significant reduction in your carbon footprint. If you live in an area where the sun shines brightly, such as Australia, you’ll be able to generate enough energy to meet your needs.