For years, the U.S. has lagged the rest of the world in solar farms, solar farm companies and solar power production. But growth has increased almost exponentially as the nation and the planet realize how relatively simply — and affordably, with government subsidies — it is to harness the sun’s power.
Europe’s 28 nations dominated yearly expansion for 10 years until 2013, when production was more evenly shared with other nations. Last year, China became the world’s leader. In 2013, Europe still provided about 59 percent of the world’s new photovoltaic installations worldwide. (Photovoltaic panels, or solar farms, use the sun’s energy to tap into traditional power grids and provide power to electrical consumers with no changes at their homesites. The other type of solar power heats water into steam, producing electricity through that means.)
Solar farms remain the second most popular electrical capacity in 2013 in Europe, with wind ranking first. Solar farms and rooftop panels provide about three percent of the continent’s electricity, and six percent during the day. The disparity is a result of more need for electricity during daytime hours.
This June, more up-to-date statistics will be announced.
As for individual nations, China trounces all countries, with 11.3 GWs already connected to existing electrical grids. Japan is second with 6.9 GWs.
But the largest farm in the world will soon be on line in the U.S.’s Mojave Desert. The good news is that the U.S. is now ranked third in the world with 4.8 GWs already connected to electrical grids and being used. In 2012, the solar industry gave 73,068 people steady, living wages. The industry is already worth about $11.5 billion.
So many solar farm start-up companies have sprouted in the U.S. that a “Top 250” list is now annually generated. Most are in Southwestern and Southeastern states, where predictably more sun shines, but even states such a New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York have successful solar farms.