Solar PV is the world’s most popular renewable energy. Its boom is largely because it has received high support from governments around the world providing subsidies to those homes and businesses who install solar. For several years, growth was mainly driven by Japan and pioneering European countries like Germany and Spain. As a consequence of the government backed funding, the cost of solar declined significantly due to the learning curve effects such as improvements in technology and economies of scale. This in turn saw an even bigger deployment in solar PV. Since then the majority of fast growth has been seen in Asia and North America.
China is now leading the way in the adoption and production of solar PV. Nearly half of the world’s solar installed last year was in China, with Asia as a whole making up two-thirds of new capacity in 2016. While solar power currently only represents 11 per cent of China’s total energy output, china is still the world’s biggest solar energy producer. In 2016 China’s solar capacity was 77.42 gigawatts with an additional increase of 34.54 throughout the year. Having surpassed Germany in terms of installed solar capacity in 2015, China’s ambitious plan for renewable energy investment shows no sign of losing momentum.
In recent years Solar PV has been regularly competing with traditional energy sources in terms of production and in at least 30 counties grid parity has been reached.
In a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance called New Energy Outlook 2017, it predicts that by 2040 as much as 20 percent of Brazil’s power will come from solar panels on residential rooftops. Germany, a leader in the adoption of solar power is set to generate 15 percent of the country’s electricity demand from small scale solar PV systems. In Australia a whopping 25 percent is of electricity generation is expected to come from rooftop solar panels. These pioneering counties compare to about 5 percent for the U.S. and India.
Solar power plants or solar farms are the biggest contributors to the total worldwide output of solar energy. Over the last decade the size of photovoltaic power stations has increased progressively and we frequently hear of new capacity records being set. The first solar farm was built in 1982 in the US with a total capacity of 1MW. This tiny amount by today’s standards paved the way for large scale solar parks. Germany and Spain also contributed to the early construction of these solar plants but it wasn’t until 2010 when the world saw the first significant leap to large scale solar plants. A 97 MW photovoltaic power station was built in Ontario, Canada. Since then the scale of solar plants grew at a rapid rate with China, USA and India all breaking records each year with total capacity. India currently holds the record for the largest PV plant with 900 MW installed of the planned 1000 MW plant.