Solar panels transform light from the sun into energy that can power all our devices, but its uptake has been remarkably slow over the last decade. Today, that is changing, thanks to massive advances in technology, increasing efficiency from an average of 12-13% in 2000 to an average of 15-18% in 2017. At the same time, costs have fallen by over 50% in that time, making solar one of the most affordable renewable energy sources. With no impact on oceans, no expensive maintenance, and no dangers posed to wildlife or surrounding land, solar panels provide safe and efficient energy.
As a result, over 73 GW of solar capacity were installed around the world in 2016. But, where does that solar energy go? And how does that compare to what you use?
What’s a Kilowatt?
A kW or Kilowatt is 1,000 watts, or about enough power to run the average light bulb for 16 hours. The average home in the UK uses about 4,600 kWh of power per year. The infomap from expertsure.com shows solar production in Kwh per capita, so you can easily see how much power is being produced in comparison to your own usage.
Of course, average power consumption changes based on the country you’re in. The average household in the USA uses about 12,000 kWh of power, in China it’s 4,310, and a household in India uses just 900 kWh per year.
Why Are Installation Rates Different?
Every country has its own priorities, weather, and budget for solar. Many countries install solar for different reasons, but the most common are government incentive, profitability, and concern for the environment.
For example, in the EU, where UN mandates require significant carbon reduction, solar uptake has dramatically increased with awareness and government funding. This is especially common in countries like the UK, Germany, and France.
Weather can also be an issue. In the UK, where you get 8-16 hours of daylight, you can easily collect power year-round. Countries like Finland and Norway have dramatically different weather. Finland experiences nearly 4 months with as little as 1-5 hours of daylight each day, making solar a less profitable choice.
Solar installations are on the rise everywhere, and that’s definitely a good thing. But, how much solar PV power are countries really producing compared to their population? For example, China has the most installed solar power at 43,530MW, but are they really leading the way in offsetting their power. Take a look at the infographic and find out.