Contribution by Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel (www.modernize.com)
As scientific research continues to prove that our choices for how we power our lives has a significant impact on the health of our planet, more countries are making the shift towards renewable resources. Solar power systems are now popping up across the globe at an astounding rate due to enticing incentivisation packages and aggressive legal mandates. At Modernize, we have found that these three countries are leading the charge in this solar revolution.
Though China isn’t usually the first country to pop into someone’s mind as an environmental protectionist, the Chinese government is working hard to change that. In recent years, the country has been able to secure this top ranking through major incentivization initiatives, enticing both small residential homes and major corporations alike to make the switch to solar power. This has resulted in a whopping 43 gigawatts (GWs) of capacity in 2016! China is now the largest purchaser of photovoltaic cells in the world and on track to meet the mandate that 80 percent of the country’s energy be supplied by renewable resources by 2050.
Germany put the rest of the world to shame for years when it came to solar GWs capacity. As of 2014, there were enough photovoltaic cells installed to generate 5 percent of the world’s total GW output. Considering Germany is smaller than many other major countries and isn’t known for its perpetual sunshine, it’s amazing that this country can now produce almost 40 GWs a year. None of this would have been possible, though, had the German government not stipulated that 100 percent of their energy needs be met by renewable resources by 2050. They are well on their way to achieving this goal, too, with solar power frequently being able to supply over half the country’s daily energy needs.
After the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011, the Japanese government realized the importance of finding renewable energy options and have worked hard to push their country towards the goal of doubling their renewable capacity by 2030. With dense populations and limited surface area, technological ingenuity has lead to floating solar islands that can hold thousands of solar panels. Not only do these islands contribute to the 23.3 GWs of solar energy produced annually, but they also give each cell a longer life expectancy by keeping them cooler on the ocean waves.
Now that global leaders have seen the importance of preserving our world’s natural resources, expect to see more countries vying for these coveted top three rankings over the years to come.