The US is not a leading user of solar energy for a very obvious reason: they can still afford to buy fossil fuels from the international market. In other countries the oil prices are ten times higher in the US and sometimes going for the alternative is a lot better in the long run. Today, more and more countries are looking at solar energy as a primary source of power. There are several countries which can be considered as at the helm of solar energy technology.
The number one use of solar energy is Germany. It captures almost 50% of the world market of photovoltaic cells. Nowhere else in the world can you find the most number of households with solar panels installed on their roof tops. Germany has this Renewable Energies Laws (EEG) which passed in 2000. The law certainly helped Germans feel the need to go renewable.
According to statistics, Germans invested nearly US$5 billion in solar photovoltaic systems and have contributed considerable in the growth of the solar energy market. Although most of the things that we see are solar panels, it doesn’t mean that Germany’s solar industry is not limited to the production of photovoltaic cells for electricity. Other notable usage in Germany includes solar panels for home water heating system. Some news indicate that the German solar hot water market earns fU.S.$1.5 billion per year.
The “solar park” in Arnstein, Bavaria, Germany is one of the biggest photovoltaic plants in the world. It became operational in 2006 and with more than 1,400 PV solar panels, it can produce 12 megawatts of energy.
The next biggest country in terms of usage of solar energy is Spain. The solar energy usage in the country, more specifically the photovoltaic cells usage, has a world market share of 27%. Spain has no sign of slowing down its aggressive and pro-active approach in solar energy. Solar fields are being constructed one of the latest ones is the 60 MW solar field in Olmedilla de Alarcón, near Cuenca.
There are other big solar plants in Spain and these include the solar park 12 miles outside of Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain which have 70,000 PV panels divided into three 36-hectare arrays. The arrays produce an output is 13.8 megawatts and has been powering roughly 5,000 homes since it opened in 2007.
And the rest of the world follow Germany and Spain. Japan and the US still have a market share in the photovoltaic world market. The two countries both have an 8% market share, a far cry from Germany and Spain. Nevertheless, it is quite important that countries continue to improve their status in the world solar market.
Other notable country that uses solar power includes Alegeria, Australia, Italy, and Portugal. Aside from the rich European countries, people in Israel and India are realizing the importance of having alternative sources of energy.
These are the countries on the helm of solar energy technology. But, other countries are slowly catching up. The government of Israel, for example, required all residential buildings to install solar water heating systems in the early 90s. Today, business establishments like hotels and office buildings are trying to use solar power as an alternative from using fossil fuels whose prices continue to soar in the world market.
India is facing a similar energy crisis and they are also looking at solar energy to get them through it.