The world is facing an energy crisis. The supply of conventional resources such as coal, oil, and gas has become unpredictable due to rising geopolitical tensions. But the power demand refuses to abate.
It is unsurprising then, that countries are scrambling to build their renewable energy capacity.
One resource that leads this energy shift is solar power. It is the 3rd largest renewable energy resource, after wind and hydropower. Solar energy’s economic viability along with vast availability contributed to its unprecedented growth in recent years.
According to an IRENA report, global solar PV generation increased by a record 179 TWh in 2021 (a 22% rise) from the previous year. The global solar capacity amounted to 849 GW in 2021. Further, it accounted for 3.6% of the world’s energy generation.
On the global scale of solar capability, some countries are undoubtedly performing better than others. Here are the top 5 solar countries in the world, based on their installed capacity:
China- 430 GW
Huanghe Hydropower Hainan Solar Park, China
China’s solar prowess is staggering. With a whopping 430 GW solar capacity (As of April 2023), the country is the largest producer of solar energy in the world.
In the first six months of 2022, the nation has deployed more than 30.88 GW of Solar PV systems. Moreover, it has set goals to install 108 GW of solar power this year.
The nation is also the largest manufacturer of solar equipment. According to reports, China has invested over 50 billion USD, in new PV supply capacity since 2011. This figure is ten times greater than the amount invested by the entire continent of Europe in the same industry.
China’s share in all manufacturing phases of solar panels exceeds 80%. Today, subsidy-free solar power has become cheaper than coal in China.
In addition, the country has set ambitious goals for the future.
In its 14th Five-Year Plan released in June 2022; China has targeted that 33% of electricity generated in 2025 will come from renewables. Additionally, Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China recently announced plans to develop 1200 GW of solar and wind energy capacity by 2030.
The United States of America- 141.8 GW
Topaz Solar Farm, USA
With 141.8 GW of solar power capacity, the USA stands second in the list of top solar countries. From a measly capacity of 0.34 GW in 2008, the nation has come a long way in the solar domain.
Presently, 3% of the US’s electricity is sourced through solar power plants.
Moreover, US’s solar potential is huge. According to a report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an area the size of Lake Michigan (around 22,000 sq. miles), covered with solar panels, would be enough to power the entire country. If the efficiency of the panels is raised, this area could be reduced by half.
The solar market in the US is also growing at a rapid rate. Sources claim that solar jobs have increased by 167% in the nation.
To encourage the switch to solar, the nation is steadily introducing favourable policies. Moreover, the administration under president Joe Biden has announced a goal of reaching 100% clean energy by 2025. Out of this, solar power would meet 40% of the electricity demand.
Setouchi Kirei Mega Solar Power Plant, Okayama, Japan
A few years ago, Japan stood 4th in terms of solar power capacity. Now, with a cumulative capacity of 84.9 GW, the nation is occupying the 3rd spot.
Solar Power accounted for close to 10% of Japan’s total electricity generation in 2021. This is an excellent growth, compared to the mere 0.3% of the energy mix in 2010.
The nation is considered the fastest growing in terms of promoting Solar PV. Further, with 45% of the world’s photovoltaic cells manufactured in Japan, the country leads the world in the photovoltaic market.
As per Japan’s Environment and Trade Ministries, the nation is looking to add 20 GW of solar capacity in the next 8 years, to reach the 108 GW target. To achieve this target, the Japanese government is planning to install solar panels in over 50% of central government and municipal buildings.
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Neuhardenberg solar power plant, Germany
Germany leads the European countries in renewable energy. As of 2021, the nation’s solar capacity was 69.1 GW.
In 2021, solar power accounted for 10% of the country’s electricity consumption.
The Ukraine war has created tension between many European nations and Russia. Germany is also facing the consequences of this friction in the form of a shortage of gas. To manage this energy crisis, the German government is striving to introduce policies and expand the renewable energy capacity.
Recently the country floated a tender to develop 1.5 GW of additional solar energy to meet the rising power demand.
Further, the government has a plan to reach net neutrality by 2045. To meet this goal, the nation has set a solar power target of installing 215 GW capacity by 2030.
Bhadla Solar Park, India
With an installed solar capacity of over 68 GW, India is the 5th largest solar country in the world. The country has vast solar potential, as most states of India receive sunshine for more than 300 days a year.
To harness this potential, the Indian government is constantly churning out policies and initiatives that encourage the shift to solar among the population. The nation is also determined to reduce import dependence in the solar sector and build domestic manufacturing capabilities.
In September 2022, the government of India approved the Performance Linked Initiative (PLI) scheme for High-Efficiency Solar PV panels. This decision aims to incentivize enterprises for sales of indigenously produced solar equipment and thus strengthen the Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-sufficient) initiative.
In the first half of 2022, the country added 7.2 GW of solar capacity. Moreover, the nation has set a target of creating 280 GW of solar power capacity by 2030.
Also Read: The Top 5 Solar States in India
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