While exploring the topic of energy, many consider solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels and nuclear power. People strive to use less fossil fuels in their day-to-day lives.
People in the United States turned to solar power in the 1800s, with the development of solar technology and the spread of solar energy awareness. Since then, solar power has been embraced by many around the world.
Since the early 2000s, the cost of solar panels has decreased, and the popularity of solar power has increased. In 2018 alone, worldwide sales of photovoltaic (PV) technology reached 14.9 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 19% from the previous year. The market share of the PV market was more than 5% in 2018 (source: Market Analysis, Morgan Stanley).
Solar power is abundant, and it is virtually free. The sun provides light and warmth for everyone on Earth. Simply put, solar power is not a scarce resource.
In fact, solar power is so plentiful that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the world will need another 1.9 billion dollars just in order to meet the energy demand in 2030 (source: IEA).
This statistic highlights the important role that solar energy plays in powering the world. It also shows how much energy the world will need in the coming years. Now, let’s explore how much solar energy is used in the world.
How Much Solar Energy is Used in the World Today?
The cost of solar energy has decreased significantly in the past few years. As a result, more homeowners are choosing to switch their energy provider to solar power. Whether you’ve decided to go green and go solar or you’ve been inspired by the increasing demand for alternative energy, installing solar panels on your roof is an easy way to generate your own energy. If you use solar power in your daily life, you’ll quickly realize how much energy you generate, and you’ll be able to see the impact of your energy use.
How Is Solar Energy Used?
While many people choose to generate their own power with a solar energy system, there are also others who choose to consume it. For example, homeowners with solar power might choose to use it exclusively for general purposes, such as lighting and appliances. However, if you live in Australia, you might consider investing in a solar power system that can generate electricity for everything (e.g., air-conditioning and refrigeration).
Some other common uses of solar energy include water pumping and heating, desalination, and even industrial cooling. Solar energy is also used to run large appliances, such as dishwashers, refrigerators, and water heaters. In 2019, the American Solar Energy Association (ASEA) reported that there were approximately 135 million solar energy devices (e.g., solar water heaters) installed worldwide. This makes solar energy the world’s second-largest energy source, after fossil fuels (source: ASEANationalCouncil).
How Much Does Solar Energy Cost?
The cost of solar energy varies based on many factors, including the size of your system and where you live. If you live in a country where electricity is relatively expensive, you’ll need to invest in a larger system.
According to the IESE (Instituto de Estudos Econômicos), the cost of electricity directly related to solar power is between 2.27 and 4.04 euros per kWh, depending on the country and the time of day (source: IESE). Other costs include labor, material costs, and the cost of equipment installation.
If you decide to go green and generate your own power with solar energy, you’ll need to invest in a system to store energy during the day and release it at night. As a result, your cost per kWh will increase significantly.
Where Does Solar Energy Come From?
Depending on where you live, the sun may not even be available for you to use. At night, when the sun has gone down and electrical power is no longer available, you’ll have no way to generate electricity. This is why you need to store the energy you generate during the day.
If you live in a country where the sun is only available during a certain period of the day, you’ll need to make provisions for when it isn’t. For example, if you live in the U.S., you’ll need to store the energy you generate during the day in a battery so you can use it at night when electricity is not available. You could also choose to run an inverter that converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) in order to use appliances that require AC power.
Where Will Solar Energy Be Used In The Future?
With the world’s second-largest economy and largest population, China is well-positioned to lead the way in the adoption of alternative energy. Over the next several years, China plans to invest heavily in renewable energy and to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. As a result of this trend, renewable energy will play a significant role in powering the world’s largest economy. In fact, according to the Global New Energy Outlook 2030, produced by the research firm Wood Mackenzie, wind power will have the largest market share of any source of new energy, reaching nearly 60% in 2030.
Based on these findings, it’s evident that the world is embracing alternative energy sources, and solar power is one of the biggest alternatives to fossil fuels. The market for solar power is expanding, and the cost of solar panels continues to decrease. As a result, homeowners are able to generate their own power more easily, and businesses have more affordable options for their energy needs.