The global solar power industry has experienced remarkable growth since the 2009 recession. The growth rate each year between 2007 to 2011 was around 70%. At the end of 2011, the total GW of solar panels installed worldwide was 62, divided between residential roofs, commercial buildings, and utility plants.
Country by Country Solar Energy Take-Up
As is well known, Germany is leading the way when it comes to solar power installed today, and it has been doing so since 2010. Germany’s goal is to replace its nuclear resources completely by 2020 with renewable energy just pushed the country faster. The goal was what initiated the government Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, which intends to encourage the take-up of solar energy among households and businesses, through a renewable reward system.
The U.S has a strong take-up of solar energy, with installations totalling 1,855 MW at the end of 2011. Although, it is yet to compete with countries such as Germany and Italy because it has no feed-in tariff as of yet. Several states in the U.S., however, including California and Arizona, have implemented their own solar energy incentive schemes, and the U.S is expected to become a more important global player in solar energy in coming years.
As Arizona, Nevada, and Texas are some of the sunniest places in the entire world, the potential for the U.S. to fully harness solar power is great. A manufacturer in California now has a capacity for 354 MW and is a significant global source for solar power.
Italy, Japan, and China will be taking up growth from Germany, which has reached its initial targets and is relaxing its solar power incentive schemes at the moment.
The UK’s solar energy market has also grown significantly lately, buoyed greatly by its FiT government reward incentive.
Australia and India have the lowest take-up of this renewable energy source. France is also very low on solar energy take-up.
The Price of Panels Worldwide
Chinese manufacturers such as Suntech have overtaken other global distributors of solar panels in recent years. Suntech has produced over 1000 MW as of this year, and Chinese solar panel manufacturing has increased to 4000 MW as a whole. Half of the world’s largest solar manufacturing companies are based in China now.
This is due to the relentless price cutting of solar panels. Chinese manufacturers can make these for just $1.28 per watt, compared to the lowest Western supplier’s price of $2 per watt.
With an oversupply of solar PV modules globally and US and EU trade cases against China’s solar subsidy program, some of these top Chinese firms, even Suntech, are facing hard times and potential failure.
In India, the price of solar panels dropped by around 50 per cent in 2011, making them more cost effective for people than diesel. With many homes using diesel generators to cope with frequent blackouts on the national grid, renewable affordable energy could soon be the more common answer. Solar electricity is getting cheaper, and analysts predict that it will be as cheap as grid electricity by 2015 in half the countries of the world.
Author Bio: Ben has been writing about solar energy for a number of years. If you live in the UK, you can compare the cost of solar panels and make great savings. Feel free to comment on this post.