There has always been a desperation to move our dependency from dirty, finite fossil fuels to a more cleaner and sustainable fuel source and since the start of the decade there has been a rapid boom in the adoption of solar energy harnessing. Solar panels are becoming more efficient and continuous developments in the tech mean that it’s being adopted in unexpected areas not well-known for having loads of sunlight.

This means that adoption of solar power has been a global boom and not just in countries that are blessed with year round sunshine. Below are the top 10 performing countries in the world in solar power according to installed photovoltaic solar (PV) energy capacity. Check it out, you’ll probably be quite surprised.

1. Germany: 35.5 GW

Germany was the world leader back in 2010 (9.8 GW) and it still holds that title, boasting a quarter of the world’s installed PV capacity (26 percent). It’s expected to maintain the position of Europe’s top solar market despite a recent slowdown.

The combination of a proven feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme, good financing opportunities, a large availability of skilled PV companies, and a good public awareness of the PV technology, largely contributed to this success,” European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) reported.

2. China: 18.3 GW



With such a massive and dense population and being notorious for smog and pollution it’s a joy to see China rank so highly on this list. Since 2009 they have increased solar capacity by 6,000 percent — from less than one-third of a gigawatt of capacity to 18.3 GW.

It helps that China is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and current government plan to decrease coal use and are ambitiously aiming to achieve  solar capactiy of 70 GW by 2017.

3. Italy: 17.6 GW



Not only has Italy continued its leadership in solar — rising from fifth place in 2010 to third place as of the end of 2013 — it generates more of its energy from solar than any other nation, with 7.8 percent of its energy coming from solar, compared to 6.2 percent for Germany. They’re also lucky to receive decent sunlight throughout the year.

4. Japan: 13.6 GW



4-japan2Despite increasing their solar capacity by 500% since 2010, Japan has slipped from third place to fourth, showing just how competitive the recent boom has been. Government residential PV programs, net-metering, high national solar energy goals to reach 28 GW by 2020 and 53 GW by 2030, as well as the support of local authorities and the private sector make Japan a world leader in this field.

There’s also a great deal of interest in the tech in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

5. United States: 12 GW



Yes you’d expect to see the U.S. in this list but it would probably surprise you that despite increasing their global capacity by 750% they only feature 5th in the list. With many large ground-mounted solar projects in the pipeline, installed capacity in the US is expected to grow significantly in coming years.

6. Spain: 5.6 GW



Spain was once the world leader (back in 2008) of PV solar energy at 2,605 MW. It has of course increased its capacity since then but far from the rapid growth seen in other European countries. The reasons for this drop are attributed to complexity and delays related to a new government subsidy program and a decrease in energy demand due to the economic crisis.


7. France: 4.6 GW



France has continued to benefit from its well-designed FiT for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), but the country’s solar growth has been slowed by a lack of political support for solar incentives, which the the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) in a report published earlier in 2014 (PDF) also attributed to attacks from the nuclear and fossil fuel energy industries.


8. Australia: 3.3 GW



One of two newcomers to the list, Australia has been taking advantage of its sunny climate. Between steadily dropping solar prices and the fact that Australia boasts some of the greatest solar potential in the world, solar power costs less than half what grid electricity costs, although the current government is considering scaling back the federal Renewable Energy Target, which would slow if not stop the country’s upward trajectory in these lists.

9. Belgium: 3GW



A surprisingly strong contender over the years, Belgium’s success was from “a well-designed Green Certificates scheme (which actually works as a Feed-in Tariff), combined with additional tax rebates and electricity self-consumption.”

10. United Kingdom: 2.9 GW



Rewind 5 years ago and the UK was miles away from being in the top 10. Improvements in the efficiency of the tech teamed with good government backing means that the UK has become a poster child for the global solar boom. The EPIA note that in 2013, the U.K. nearly doubled its solar capacity, installing more even than Italy, the current 5th-place holder.

Via: Interesting Engineering

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