We have truly made great strides in adopting solar technologies into our electricity grid here in the USA, and we can be proud of ourselves for doing our part in reducing the global fossil fuel dependency. However, we are neither the first nor the most successful at this. Many countries, such as Morocco and Japan are very big players in this game. Another name which pops out is the European Union. They have contributed significantly, both as a single entity and as individual countries. Solar outdoor lighting is becoming more accessible to the cold northern countries as well, so it has been on the rise in the past years.
EU as a whole
The EU has some regulations which apply to all member states and therefore they can be viewed as a single entity, at least on the surface (we’ll delve into details later on). The EU has focused on two different types of solar energy; solar thermal and photovoltaic. Solar thermal energy is on the rise mostly in the southern part of the EU, with Italy, Spain, Greece, and Germany leading the trend, while Denmark, Sweden, the UK and Finland are at the rear of the list. Photovoltaic is a whole different matter.
Photovoltaics in the EU
The photovoltaic energy is the most common type of solar energy, where solar panels collect the sun’s energy which is then converted into electricity. The EU has been involved in it for a very long time, and they have increased the output year after year at different rates. Probably the biggest leap happened in 2011 when 22.4 GW of capacity was added to the grid. Every year since then at least additional 10 GW was added. The estimated goal for 2020 is around 120 GW. With current 95 GW, this plan seems easily attainable.
Some countries are more successful at this transition into renewable energies than others, however. There are various factors which determine the status of solar energy in a country; ranging from climate and sun exposure to political will and financial status.
As with many other things, Germany is at the foreground of this list. Around 40 percent of the EU’s entire photovoltaic production comes from Germany. In fact, Germany is only slightly lagging after the world’s biggest photovoltaic energy producer- China.
The next 20% of Europe’s total comes from a single country as well – Italy. It is also highly ranked in the world, at 5, just behind the whole of the USA.
Other countries are impressive in other ways. Denmark, for instance, set a plan to reach 200 MW of photovoltaic capacity by 2020. And then they reached it in 2012. And they didn’t only reach it, they almost doubled it. From unimpressive 16 MW in 2011, they reached astonishing 391 MW the following year. At the end of 2015, their capacity was around 800 MW. Their ultimate goal is 100% renewable energy use by 2050.
Despite being at the forefront of the solar trend, the EU is not developing its solar potential equally, with poor countries such as Croatia, as well as frigid northern countries like Finland lagging drastically behind the others.
Concentrated solar power
This method of solar energy collection is different than photovoltaic. It is an indirect method, which uses the heat of the sun to produce electricity. It is almost entirely situated in Spain with around 2.3 GW power output.
Solar outdoor lighting experts
Solar outdoor lighting is only a fraction of the potential of solar energy. If you are looking to join this ever-growing trend, contact Greenshine, an expert for all kinds of solar outdoor lighting fixtures.