Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant energy source available in today’s day and age. Solar energy can be used for generating electricity, providing lighting, and heating water for domestic, commercial, and industrial use. What’s even more positive about solar energy is that it can be created in many different ways! According to seia.org, “there are several ways to harness solar energy: photovoltaics (also called solar electric), solar heating & cooling, concentrating solar power (typically built at utility-scale), and passive solar.” The first three of these, which are active solar systems, use electrical devices to convert the sun’s heat and light to usable sources of energy. The others are passive solar systems, which are made to collect energy from the sun’s heat and distribute it without the use of moving parts. This kind of energy is a flexible technology as “solar power plants can be built as distributed generation (located at or near the point of use) or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plant (similar to traditional power plants).” The utility scale plants can even store the energy for use after the sun sets!!
Due to the fact that solar energy is renewable and thus, will never run out, countries all of the world have been converting to using solar power. Below is a graph of the countries with the most installed solar energy.
As you can see, Germany is the leading country in the Solar Energy industry, and its use is continuing to grow! According to planetsave.com, “During 2009, Germany installed eight times more megawatts of photovoltaics solar energy capacity than America did that year.” While Germany has already converted much of its energy to solar, installing thousands of solar panels, the country plans to rely only on renewable energy by 2050. Recently, German solar farms produced a world record of 22 gigawatts of energy which is equivalent to the output of 20 nuclear plants. An image of the farms can be seen below:
Just behind Germany is spain, which gets 10% of its energy from solar power. In fact, Spain was once the leader in solar power. Furthermore, the Vatican has the larger solar power plant in Europe! “Although it is the smallest country in the world, the Vatican has spent $660 million to build a massive 100MW photovoltaic installation. The output will be more than enough to provide enough power for the whole country.” This is an incredible step forward into solar energy. Below, is an image of the solar power device in the Vatican.
Over the next few years, it will certainly be exciting to watch countries convert to solar energy! Clearly, this is already happening and proving to be a success in creating more renewable energy in order to save our beloved planet earth. I will most definitely be looking more into this topic!