Is Solar Power World Myth or Reality?

May 10, 2024

Sunlight bathes our planet in a continuous stream of clean, renewable energy. For centuries, we’ve harnessed its warmth. As technology rises, we start to develop greener power solutions. And the Sun is the perfect fit for it!

The amount of solar power production compared to annual consumption by mankind.

Source: Born To Engineer

It’s safe to say that the Sun releases almost 900,000 times more energy than humanity currently consumes. However, modern technology is far from perfect as we can harness just a tiny part of this energy. In this article, you’ll discover whether achieving a solar power world today is possible or will take centuries to achieve green energy dominance.

Where Is Solar Energy Used in the World?

 Average sunny hours per day in 2016

Source: Born To Engineer

As of 2024, harnessing solar energy is becoming a worldwide eco-friendly trend. Governments of many countries provide enormous incentives for solar farms and distribute solar solutions.

We can see a direct correlation between solar popularity and country location, evident in the fact that regions near the equator enjoy 8-12 hours of sunlight year-round. Meanwhile, people living closer to the poles are more likely to explore multiple green alternatives simultaneously.

U.S. Solar Landscape

A map of peak sun hours in the United States

Source: Unbound Solar

The United States is a major player in the global solar energy market, boasting the world’s second-highest solar energy production capacity, following China. The federal government encourages the usage of solar energy, from small residential panels to large solar farms.

While household and business solar solutions are spread throughout the federation, utility-scale solar farms are usually located in southwest regions with high sunlight, such as:

There are also many solar farms in southeast states like Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana. North states usually have mixed power farms, combining wind and solar energy.

The U.S. solar sector is experiencing significant growth, driven by factors such as:

  1. Falling costs. Solar panel prices have dropped dramatically in the last 5-7 years, making solar more affordable.
  2. Government incentives. Federal and state tax credits, local incentives, and renewable portfolio standards encourage wider solar adoption.
  3. Environmental concerns. Growing awareness of climate change drives interest in clean energy sources like solar.

Meanwhile, solar integration in the U.S. still faces its challenges. These include grid integration, the job market, and more cost-effective energy storage.

Integrating large amounts of solar energy into the existing grid can be challenging, as solar power generation fluctuates with sunlight availability. We must consider efficient and cost-effective storage solutions for excess energy.

That’s why many tech giants are focused on smart grid technology, aiming to develop a more intelligent grid that efficiently manages variable renewable energy sources such as solar.

We will also see how the solar power world disrupts the employment landscape. The green energy industry is already creating new installation, maintenance, and manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, there are concerns about potential job losses in traditional energy sectors. Millions of people work in this industry, so they are worried about their place in the future world of energy.

Solar Landscape in Canada and Mexico

Solar irradiation in North America

Source: Solargis

Two of the closest U.S. neighborhoods face slightly different situations. Canada receives far fewer Sun rays. It has long days in summer and extra short days in the winter, so most of its solar projects are distributed. Canada doesn’t have as many solar farms as the U.S. since it won’t benefit Canadians that much.

At the same time, the Mexican government encourages the use of various solar solutions. Over 70% of Mexico receives excellent solar radiation, making it ideal for solar energy generation.

Large-scale solar farms are vital for Mexico’s economy. Projects like the Villanueva Solar Park generate enough power for over a million homes. Mexico’s government provides solar incentives to encourage distributed solar.

Solar Industry in South America

 Solar irradiation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Source: Solargis

Latin America boasts some of the world’s best solar resources, and the region is witnessing a surge in solar energy adoption. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the situation. 

  1. Most of Latin America lies in the tropics, receiving abundant sunshine yearly. 
  2. The region is already a leader in renewable energy, primarily through hydropower, and solar is poised to emerge as a significant player too.
  3. Brazil and Chile are two regional leaders, with a rapidly growing utility-scale solar sector and increasing interest in rooftop solar.

Solar Solutions in Europe

 Solar irradiation in Europe.

Source: Solargis

The European situation is highly similar to the USA — there are numerous solar farms in southern countries. Meanwhile, northern states like Norway or Finland often use a mix of wind and solar farms. Each nation has slightly different regulations, but they all develop various solar incentives and implement smart grid solutions.

Solar Landscape in Africa

 Solar irradiation in Africa and Middle East

Source: ResearchGate

This continent boasts immense potential for solar energy, with abundant sunshine and a growing electricity demand. Most of Africa lies in the tropics, receiving excellent solar radiation yearly. At the same time, many countries still face significant energy deficits, limited access to electricity, and hindering economic development.

Many African governments promote off-grid solutions and small solar plants for community use. They encourage people to harness the Sun’s power to achieve energy independence.

Morocco and Kenya are African leaders in the solar industry. Morocco’s Noor Ouarzazate solar complex is one of the largest in the world, showcasing Africa’s potential for large-scale solar power generation. Meanwhile, Kenya’s government actively encourages disrupted solar solutions, promoting household solar electrification.

Solar Energy in Asia, Australia, and Oceania

 Solar irradiation in Australia and Oceania

Source: Solargis

Asia, Australia, and Oceania’s landscapes are also becoming a significant part of the solar power world. These regions receive excellent solar radiation throughout the year, making them suitable for solar power generation.

Solar irradiation in Asia

Source: Solargis

China, Australia, and Japan are leaders in the Asian region, with massive investments in solar farms and residential solutions.

How Do We Use Solar Energy in Everyday Life?

There are many ways how solar power can be used in daily situations. It can power home appliances, cars, machinery in businesses, and even large electric vehicles. Furthermore, big solar farms provide valuable energy to neighborhoods or even towns.

Here is just a small list of things that are solar-powered:

  1. Solar water heating devices provide valuable warm water to your location. They use the Sun’s heat to warm water for showers, laundry, and even pools.
  2. Solar cookers are used to boil water, make soups, roast meat on pans, and even bake cookies. Rock climbers like using these devices as they enable safe food preparation without the need for dangerous liquefied gas.
  3. Solar-powered lights are becoming increasingly popular for paths, gardens, and even street lamps in parking lots. Most solar-powered lights have a small built-in battery that stores adequate energy for nighttime street lighting.
  4. Portable solar chargers enable you to power your phone, laptop, camera, or other small appliances. They are perfect for hiking or camping; you can still charge crucial devices without weighing down your backpack. You can connect them to portable batteries like EcoFlow or Jackery, which can be powered by solar.

This is just a small list of things that use solar energy. You can power almost anything with the Sun’s rays. The most crucial thing is to use a correct inverter to provide the needed wattage and capacity for chosen appliances.

Navigating the Future: Solar Power World

The future of solar energy is bright. Continuous research and technology development in the world of energy improve the efficiency and affordability of solar panels for the general audience. Rooftop solar panels and microgrids will become more widespread, empowering communities and providing greater energy access.

We will see advancements in storage solutions that allow businesses and individuals to store even more of the electricity generated. That way, more and more people will achieve a green, off-grid lifestyle, lowering their reliance on non-renewable resources.

The cost of solar panels and installations is expected to decrease, making solar power more competitive with traditional energy sources. Supportive policies like feed-in tariffs and tax breaks will continue incentivizing solar investment. Moreover, new financing models, such as solar loans, leases, and PPAs, make green energy accessible even to low-income communities.

Countries with abundant sunshine are already leaders in harvesting solar energy, and they will solidify this position even more. With its vast deserts and high solar radiation, Africa has immense potential to become a worldwide leader in solar energy.

Embracing Solar and Shaping the Future of Energy

The Sun’s energy is a powerful and limitless resource. Solar power rapidly transforms how we think about electricity. From remote villages in Africa to bustling cities worldwide, solar positively impacts our planet and wallets. We have already witnessed the power of the Sun, and it will become even more prominent in the coming decades.

If you’re interested in harnessing the power for your home or business, there’s no better time to start. Ready to join the solar revolution? Getting a free solar quote is the first step in your green journey.

We will help you estimate your needs and find the best local installer team to fit them. Don’t wait any longer — embrace the sunshine and take control of your energy future. Start your bright solar-powered future with Solar Power Systems!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much solar energy does the world use?

Humanity currently uses a relatively small amount of solar energy compared to its total energy consumption. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar energy accounts for around 4.5% of global electricity. The solar industry is only in this infant stage. It means that we will see new and bold green energy solutions.

How many solar panels would it take to power the world?

According to the latest statistics, global electricity consumption is approximately 25 Terawatt-hours (TWh). Considering that the average panel has an efficiency of 350-700 watts and gets 4-5 hours of peak sunlight, it will take 25-40+ billion panels to power the planet. Given the high cost of solar panels, we will likely see a combination of solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear solutions for the next 20+ years.

Can solar power the world or at least a country?

Theoretically speaking, solar can power the world. However, it will be most effective near the equator. It’s realistic to achieve solar power dominance in countries in this region, including Mexico, Brazil, South European nations, most of Africa, and Oceania. Meanwhile, people living closer to the poles than the equator can use solar as a green addition to their current production.

How many solar panels are there in the world?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive source for the exact number of solar panels installed worldwide. This number changes daily with new manufacturers and constant installation by thousands of small and big firms. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimated the 2023 global solar PV capacity to be approximately 1.5 terawatts (TW).

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Andy Worford
Andy Worford

Andy is a Founder, Chief Content Officer, regular contributor, and idea generator behind Solar Power Systems. He is well-versed in various aspects of solar energy, including photovoltaic systems, solar policy trends, and green technology innovations.

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