Talk of energy conservation is on the rise throughout the world, and many countries are looking for alternative sources of energy in order to reduce their overall carbon footprint and the high costs associated with energy use by country. One popular alternative energy source harnesses the power of the sun. The following list of five of the top countries powered by solar energy shows how solar panels are being used as a viable source of power in a variety of settings by these solar countries, from homes to industrial buildings and even forms of transportation.
5. The United States
One of the top solar countries is the United States, and one hotbed of U.S. solar power is the self-proclaimed “Solar Capital of the World,” Taos, New Mexico. This small mountain town boasts hundreds of homes that are run entirely on solar power, both on and off the grid, as well as a large array that powers the local radio station, KTAO.
Since 2009, solar power has become one of China’s largest industries, and heating water using rooftop solar power is a common practice, giving China a top place on the list of solar by country. In 2007 alone, 80 percent of solar hot water system installation worldwide occurred in China. China’s goal of energy use by country is to have 15 percent of the nation’s power come from renewable sources by 2020.
Belgium is one of Europe’s top producers of solar by country. The country is home to Europe’s first train tunnel in countries powered by solar energy, a 2-mile stretch on the high-speed line that runs from Paris to Amsterdam. The array has 16,000 panels that produce 3,300 megawatt hours per year and also contribute power to the nearby Antwerp Central Station.
Italy is the third largest market of solar by country in Europe. The world’s first power plant to run completely on alternative energy opened in Sicily in 2010. It is powered with a combination of solar panels and molten salt, which is used as a fluid to store heat. The plant reportedly produces 9 million kwh per year.
Despite only receiving an average of 4.8 hours of sun per day, Germany leads the pack of countries powered by solar. The country has a goal of having 35 percent of its total energy running off of clean sources by 2050, but it is reportedly on track to far exceed that. The country is home to Europe’s largest rooftop solar array, which was completed in 2013. The massive system of 33,000 panels in the Heddesheim municipality covers 11 hectares and could reportedly power more than 1800 homes.