For much of the 20th century, the sun has been a source of free power that we’ve been lucky enough to benefit from. But today, solar energy finds itself in a bit of a predicament. With the advent of renewable energy policies and initiatives, such as the Paris Agreement and the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, the cost of solar energy is continuing to decline. So as the cost of solar energy continues to drop, more and more businesses see it as a viable alternative to traditional energy sources.
Where is Solar Energy Growing the Fastest?
With the plummeting cost of solar energy, it’s easy to see why so many businesses and organizations are interested in the technology. In an effort to understand where solar energy is flourishing, we analyzed the cost of different regions around the world, factoring in the cost of electricity, labor, shipping, and more. To create our ranking, we used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the International Energy Agency, and Mordor Intelligence.
The Top 5 Renewable Energy Markets
Using our analysis, we were able to identify five markets that are leading the way in terms of solar energy growth. So let’s take a closer look at these markets.
If you’re looking for a country that is making waves in the renewable energy market, you’ll want to check out Brazil. For years, the world’s fourth-largest country has been dominated by the fossil fuel industry, so it was little surprise that it took until 2016 for solar power to gain a significant foothold in the South American nation. But since then, the market has taken off, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, as of March 2019, there were 4.7 million solar jobs in Brazil, contributing to an estimated 400 GW of installed solar capacity.
According to the Solar Industry Association of Brazil, the country’s solar market grew by 23% from 2017 to 2018, with growth expected to continue in the coming years. What’s fueling this growth? According to the organization, government subsidies for solar power, relaxed building codes, and the prevalence of sun-drenched equatorial weather have helped drive residential solar adoption, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses employing solar power. Additionally, with the federal government mandating that any newly built houses be solar-powered, it’s created a massive demand for solar panels.
India is another big country plying its trade in the global marketplace, and like many emerging economies, it seeks to reduce its heavy reliance on polluting fossil fuels and become more energy independent. To that end, it has made huge investments in solar power, with an estimated 500 million solar jobs now reliant on the technology for electricity generation.
According to government data, renewable energy capacity added in 2018 was equivalent to 100 coal power plants. So even as solar energy becomes more affordable, the demand remains high, especially for small-scale projects and individual consumers.
Based on revenue, the Indian solar market is currently valued at about US$22 billion, and the country is expecting to invest a whopping US$200 billion in new renewable energy projects by 2025.
3. United States
The United States of America is the third-largest nation in the world, and also the third-largest consumer of energy worldwide. It’s quite the opposite of what we’d normally expect from a region known for its vast resources, incredible innovation, and forward-thinking policies. But that’s what makes America so unique and wonderful — its people are truly the best in the world at taking matters into their own hands when it comes to solving problems and finding new opportunities.
It’s not just limited to energy, either. The U.S. is also home to one of the most innovative technology sectors in the world, boasting companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
That said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. As the world’s largest economy, there’s also an enormous amount of wastefulness and excess consumption on an individual level. It’s a completely different animal from what we’re used to here in North America. But it’s an important point to make: America is a place where innovation happens, and it wouldn’t hurt to remind ourselves of that.
Though we often think of China as the biggest manufacturer of cheap goods, the country is quickly establishing itself as a global leader when it comes to renewables. Thanks in large part to heavy government subsidies and support, as well as the country’s vast size and population, which leads to significant market share. That market share, however, is beginning to decrease as countries like India and the U.S. seek to establish themselves as leading producers of solar power.
While some aspects of the Chinese economy are impressive, they’re not as good at handling the environment as they could be. That’s one of the reasons that so much of their energy production processes are dependent on polluting fossil fuels, which are becoming more and more expensive.
It’s quite the opposite of what we’ve discussed so far, but Germany is another market that’s seen tremendous growth in the solar energy market. The country is well-known for its renewable energy laws and bountiful solar resources, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the majority of its electricity was generated from renewable sources by 2050.
Not only that, but Germany is a country that’s seen firsthand how important solar power can be. After the country suffered through the horrors of two world wars, it learned the hard way how crucial a healthy and functioning solar industry was to its economy and wellbeing. Today, the country is home to some of the biggest and most innovative solar companies in the world.
To this day, you’ll still see lots of solar panels on residential buildings in Germany because of that country’s unique history, and how important a part solar power plays in everyday life. As a result, the market has grown by leaps and bounds, and much of that growth is thanks to the efforts of the German government, which has made huge investments in both residential and commercial-scale projects.
It’s important to remember that just because a country is rich in resources does not necessarily mean that it will be able to produce and manufacture all of the products needed to satisfy its energy demands. In fact, a lot of the products that we take for granted today would not have been possible if it weren’t for other countries coming to their aid with aid that some would argue was too little, too late. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Where Will Solar Energy Be Deployed In The Coming Years?
So far, we’ve taken a look at five of the most promising markets for solar energy, but where will this industry be headed in the next few years? Let’s take a look at this question.
It’s quite the opposite of the previous question, but depending on who you ask, this one is either very interesting or very frustrating. On the one hand, experts predict that in the coming years, solar energy will continue to grow, emerging markets will see significant decreases in cost, and more and more businesses and organizations will seek to make the switch.
On the other hand, much like the previous question, there are those who argue that given the opportunity, nature will take its course and the industry will collapse. The bottom line is that we don’t know. But what we do know is that the possibilities are endless, and the industry continues to evolve.
2. Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa is the second-largest continent in the world, and it’s also the second-largest contributor of greenhouse gases, contributing about 10% of the total worldwide emissions. With many developing nations seeking to transition away from polluting fossil fuels and implement more green policies, it’s an ideal market for solar energy. In fact, based on population and consumption, the continent is a very promising market. It would not be a surprise if solar power were to flourish in Africa. After all, much of the continent is rich in solar radiation and it has an incredibly high rate of mobile phone use, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for businesses to provide microgrids that generate electricity.
3. North America
The United States not only leads the way in terms of market size and consumption, but also in terms of innovation and renewable energy production. It wouldn’t be a surprise if, as previously discussed, the nation shifts to 100% renewable energy sources in the near future.