Although there is still much that can be done to harness the power of that great fireball in the sky, certain countries have led the way in harnessing the sun’s energy and using it as a sustainable source of electricity. The sun, by all indications, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Along with China, India, Japan, and Vietnam, the United States has placed itself as a leader in solar energy generation throughout the years. Although solar power was originally thought to be a niche sector, these countries demonstrate that this renewable energy source is a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
China’s apparent commitment to renewable energy is encouraging, as it has the biggest population and carbon footprint. According to the National Energy Administration, in 2019, China installed more than 30.1 GW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity, raising its total installed capacity to 205.2 GW.
The United States has maintained its position as a solar power leader by increasing utility sector and residential market installations. Compared to 2018, the utility sector in the United States had a 37 percent growth in installed capacity in 2019. Compared to 2018, the residential market expanded installed capacity by 15% in 2019. The total new installed capacity for 2019 was 13.3 GW, bringing the total installed capacity in the United States to 75.9 GW.
India’s steady ascent to the top of the PV capacity rankings has been impressive. In 2019, India had a 9% market share of the global PV market. The country outperformed Japan (which had a 6.3 percent market share) and trailed the United States. The country’s total installed capacity was around 42.9 GW at the end of 2019.
As one of the world’s most densely populated countries, Japan cannot afford to cover vast swaths of land with solar panels. Despite its scarcity of open space, Japan continues to lead the world in total solar energy production, with 7 GW of new installed capacity in 2019. The island nation has even built floating “solar islands” with tens of thousands of water-resistant solar panels.
Apart from these countries, countless others are striving towards renewable energy. Germany, Italy, Australia, and Vietnam are some countries that might take the lead in solar energy production.