By: Kirsten Hogg

Why is solar power important?

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been increasingly reliant on fossil fuels for their energy needs.  In order to release energy from fossil fuels they need to be burned which results in carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.  At present, around 34 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are generated from the burning of fossil fuels each year.  The increase in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in our atmosphere have far-ranging environmental and health effects that have included global warming.

To reduce greenhouse gases, we need to reduce our use and dependence on fossil fuels.  Solar power is a viable alternative to fossil fuels as it does not produce greenhouse gases, has a smaller impact on local ecosystems than other renewables energy solutions like hydropower and has greater versatility in the locations where it can be installed.

Which country generates the most solar power?

China is the global leader in the generation of solar energy.  As of 2022, China had a solar energy capacity of 393GW.  China installed 106GW in 2022 and it is expected China’s solar energy capacity will more than double by 2025.

Significant investment has been made by China in renewable energy to achieve its goal to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060.  China’s investment in solar farms in 2022 was greater than the investment by the United States and the European Union combined. 

Whilst China is the largest solar energy producer, solar energy only provides 5% of China’s total energy needs.  Coal continues to be China’s primary energy source.  This means there is significant room for growth in China’s use of solar energy.

Which country has the highest adoption of solar power?

Spain is estimated to have the highest proportion of its energy needs met through solar power (19.1%).  Spain’s sunny climate is one of the reasons why it has a high level of solar energy, plus it is a world leader in concentrated solar power.

Australia has the highest solar energy use as a proportion of its population, at 1,166W per capita in 2022.  The dry climate in Australia provides the ideal environment for solar energy production.  More than 30% of homes in Australia have rooftop solar panels installed.

How are countries supporting the transition to solar power?

Government policies are critical in encouraging the adoption of solar power.  Subsidies and tax breaks are being used to assist consumers with initial implementation costs.  Mandates for energy companies to have a minimum level of energy generated from renewable sources also helps ensure there is ongoing investment in the necessary infrastructure.

The increased production and demand for solar panels created over the last few decades has resulted in significant cost reductions.  Since 1989, the cost of solar panels has reduced by 94%.  Solar energy is now one of the most cost-effective sources of energy, which makes it an increasingly popular choice as a fossil fuel alternative.