The energy industry is changing, and the way we produce, use, and consume energy is evolving.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar power, are becoming popular and more sustainable.
Additionally, the cost of solar power is continuing to decline, making it more attractive and competitive.
This is creating a significant market disruption, and this trend is likely to continue.
The increasing demand for clean energy is having a pronounced effect on the implementation of solar power around the world.
Developed countries are leading the way in implementing solar power, while emerging markets need and demand more traditional and established sources of energy.
Where Has Solar Power Been Implemented?
The first solar power plants were built in the 1970s for military purposes. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that commercial applications began to emerge.
Countries such as Germany, France, and the U.K. began implementing large-scale solar power projects in the early 2000s, with similar initiatives soon following in Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.
Since then, the solar market has taken off, and today, there are more than 500 million solar-powered devices around the world. Some of the markets with the highest demand include:
- India (100 million+)
- China (50 million+)
- U.S. (32 million+)
- Germany (27 million+)
- Japan (22 million+)
The Indian Solar Market
One of the most significant markets for solar power is India. Between 2010 and 2015, solar power capacity increased from 500 to 15,000 MW. During the same period, wind power’s capacity increased from 20 to 270 MW.
The Indian government has set a target of generating 175,000 MW of renewable energy by 2022. To achieve this, it has approved a plan to install solar power plants across the country. Several large-scale solar power plants have already been completed and are in operation. In addition to this, the Indian government has also set targets to reduce the power consumption by businesses and individuals. This initiative, along with the country’s growing economy, should help drive the solar power market in India.
China’s Growing Solar Market
China is another significant market for solar power, and not just because of the country’s large population. China now has 100 million solar-powered devices, and this number is expected to reach 200 million by 2025. This makes it the world’s second-largest solar market.
The Chinese government has long supported solar power and renewable energy initiatives. It was one of the first countries to mandate the use of renewable energy. In 2018, the country became the world leader in renewable energy installations, with 80 million solar-powered devices (including those in power boats, military camps, and university campuses) and 10,600 MW of installed solar power capacity.
Additionally, China is among the world’s leading producers of solar panels, with an installed capacity of 132 million. This has made the country an important contributor to the renewable energy industry, as much as it is a consumer of energy.
The Growing U.S. Solar Market
The U.S. solar market grew by 62% in 2018 and is expected to hit 52 million units by next year. This makes it the third-largest solar market in the world. In the past five years, the U.S. has seen an influx of cheap capital, which has led to a significant uptick in new solar projects.
In 2018, there were 1,200 MW of solar power capacity installed across the U.S., and this number is expected to increase to 2,400 MW by next year. Several states in the U.S. have enacted or are in the process of enacting legislation that will increase the use of solar power. One of the most significant markets is California, which will become the world’s fifth-largest solar market by next year.
The Decreasing Cost of Solar Power
The cost of solar power continues to decline, and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2018, the cost of solar power declined by 16%, and this was the case even in countries where the cost of electricity is significantly higher than that in the U.S. Many solar power producers have begun operating in emerging markets, where electricity is cheaper, but still have sufficient demand to continue selling their products.
Emerging markets such as China and India have a large population of users who are increasingly looking for affordable and stable energy supplies. This has helped drive the demand for solar power in emerging markets, as well as increased the number of countries implementing the technology.
What’s more, the International Energy Agency expects that between 2020 and 2025, the cost of solar power will decrease by 35%.