Solar Energy: Best option for a power hungry world

In a world that’s hungry for energy but increasingly wary of the damage that generating power can do, solar might just be the answer: clean energy that’s cheap and virtually endless.

Ranking the top 10 countries with the most solar power capacity is a way to see who’s doing it best, and who could do it better.

The numbers come from the International Energy Agency’s Trends in Photovoltaic Applications report, and while they only go through 2014, it’s the most recent data available. (These numbers tell us who is generating the most raw power from solar, not who is providing the greatest percentage of their nation’s energy with solar. And they show who has the greatest capacity installed to deliver solar energy, not how much solar energy is actually being produced.)

What’s surprising about this list is that relatively tiny countries are on it. Germany, Japan, Italy — they all rank higher than the US, even though we have much more land.

Solar power, for now anyway, requires a lot of space. So for small countries to be leading the way in overall capacity is impressive.

And it shows how much opportunity there is to install more solar in places that have a lot of open land, like the US.

The total cumulative solar power capacity for the entire world was 177,003 Megawatts — enough to power over 29 million homes.

Here are the top 10 countries leading the way in solar energy:

 10. South Korea: 2,398 Megawatts
10. South Korea: 2,398 Megawatts

A view shows a solar power plant of Korea South East Power Co. in Incheon, about 55 miles west of Seoul, on September 30, 2010.Jo Yong-Hak/REUTERS

9. Belgium: 3,156 Megawatts

9. Belgium: 3,156 Megawatts

Solar panels line the top of a train tunnel next to a motorway in Brasschaat, Belgium. The energy gathered from the panels powers the traditional and high-speed train lines.Virginia Mayo/AP

8. Australia: 4,130 Megawatts

8. Australia: 4,130 Megawatts

Rows of solar panels face skyward at the Greenough River Solar project near the town of Walkaway, about 217 miles north of Perth on October 10, 2012.Rebekah Kebede/REUTERS

7. Spain: 5,376 Megawatts

7. Spain: 5,376 Megawatts

Towers belonging to the Abengoa solar plant are seen at the “Solucar” solar park in Sanlucar la Mayor, near the Andalusian capital of Seville, Spain on March 4, 2016.Marcelo del Pozo/REUTERS

6. France: 5,678 Megawatts

6. France: 5,678 Megawatts

Wind turbines turn behind rows of 20,320 solar panels in Avignonet-Lauragais, in the Midi-Pyrenees region, France on October 30, 2015.Fred Lancelot/REUTERS

5. United States: 18,317 Megawatts

5. United States: 18,317 Megawatts

Solar Sun Flowers designed by filmmaker James Cameron are pictured at MUSE School in Malibu, California on May 19, 2015. Designed as functional art pieces, the Sun Flowers produce between 75% and 90% of the campus’ power.Jonathan Alcorn/REUTERS

4. Italy: 18,622 Megawatts

4. Italy: 18,622 Megawatts

Solar panels are seen in a farm near the Sicilian town of Castelbuono, Italy on September 28, 2009.Giuseppe Piazza/REUTERS

3. Japan: 23,409 Megawatts

3. Japan: 23,409 Megawatts

Solar powered houses in Japan’s ‘Solar City’ are pictured in Ota, 50 miles northwest of Tokyo on October 28, 2008.Yuriko Nakao/REUTERS

2. China: 28,330 Megawatts

2. China: 28,330 Megawatts

Workers walk past solar panels and wind turbines at a newly-built power plant in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China on September 17, 2015.REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT

1. Germany: 38,250 Megawatts

1. Germany: 38,250 Megawatts

Sheep graze between the panels of a solar park in Waghaeusel, 12 miles southeast of Karlsruhe, Germany, on March 21, 2011.Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS

LEAVE A REPLY