Countries around the world are continually looking to renewable energy to power the needs of their citizens. There are several ways which we as humans can harvest clean, renewable energy from our planet without the need to burn environment-damaging fossil fuels. One of the most popular of the green energies is solar power. As the name suggest, solar power harnesses the light energy from the sun and converts it to electricity. How it does this is much more complicated than we made it sound, but that is, in essence, how solar power works.
The United States of America now has one million solar power installations throughout its vast country. This is an impressive number considering only 1,000 such installations existed in the year 2000. One of the reasons for the sudden explosion (for want of a better word) of installations is the cost of solar power installations has halved over the past six years and the technology is continually becoming cheaper to manufacture and easier to install. Despite these one million solar installations, the power produced by them only represents one-percent of the United States’ annual electricity consumption; the U.S.A is the world’s second-largest consumer of electricity behind China.
Some 27.2 gigawatts of solar power capacity are spread over these one million installations, which sounds plenty until you compare it to other methods of creating electricity. For example, at the end of 2015, there were some 285 gigawatts of coal capacity and natural gas had a capacity of 440 gigawatts. In other forms of fuel, data from the U.S Government showed 98 gigawatts of nuclear capacity is available, as is 80 gigawatts of hydroelectric capacity. The United States generated more wind power than any other country in the world in 2015, creating 74 gigawatts of capacity.
In other parts of the world, China produces 43.2 gigawatts of solar electricity, more than anywhere else on the planet. This figure only tells part of the story, however, because China has more than 1.4 billion residents and is heavily reliant on coal-powered power stations, which are huge polluters of the atmosphere. China creates 1,500 gigawatts of power per year, so solar power amounts to less than one percent.
Every country, including the United States, needs to increase its solar energy because it is free and clean to use. According to figures released after climate talks in Paris in 2014, the International Energy Agency said solar power should make up at least 16 percent of global electricity by 2050 with an installed capacity of at least 5,700 gigawatts. Currently, the world has around 280 gigawatts of solar energy capacity so there is a long, long way to go in the next 32 years if this target is to be met. Reaching this figure won’t be helped by U.S President Donald Trump imposing a 30 percent tariff on foreign-made solar cells and modules. Although Trump thinks will help the U.S. economy, solar installers say the tariff will cost jobs rather than save them and could see almost 23,000 jobs lost in the next 12 months