May 12, 2017

Top 10 solar-producing countries

Renewable Energy
Nell Walker
5 min
Top 10 solar-producing countries
Over the next few years the global solar energy leaderboard is set to change significantly. As momentum for solar gathers in large countries like Ind...

Over the next few years the global solar energy leaderboard is set to change significantly. As momentum for solar gathers in large countries like India and the USA, it has been predicted that these nations will a make massive leap forward on the global stage. Using data compiled by PowerWeb, we take a look at what the global top 10 energy rankings are predicted to look like in terms of installed capacity.

Governments across the world have been implementing measures to encourage the uptake of solar at both a personal and grid level (using incentives such as feed-in tariffs) in recent years, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success. Whatever the method, there is much promising data that suggests to the naysayers that solar can outperform traditional generation methods in many instances.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 solar-producing countries.

10. Pakistan (10GW)

While Pakistan only became a solar country in 2012 when its first on-grid PV plant came online, the Southern Asian country has high ambitions. Central to its solar strategy is the Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park billed for completion this year which, once fully operational, will have a 1GW capacity and will be the largest of its kind in the world. Due to the recent fall in global tariffs, Pakistan is set to adopt power auctions which could further push down solar energy prices. 

9. Australia (12.2GW)

Since 2009, Australia’s solar presence has snowballed, with its cumulative PV capacity of a few hundred megawatts growing to a healthy 5.7GW in 2015. To date, the country has nearly 20 solar projects (with a capacity exceeding 1MW) at various stages of completion. But these promising results don’t show the full picture. Despite high levels of sunshine and economic development, many have criticised the country’s relatively low global ranking and are demanding that the government do more to encourage the industry.

8. France (12.8GW)

With a strong economy and well-developed energy sector, it is little wonder that solar took off in France. In 2016, French President François Hollande stood with India’s Narendra Modi to lay the foundation stone for the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in India. The institution aims to develop solar capabilities in countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

7. United Kingdom (14.2GW)

The United Kingdom overtook France and Spain in 2015 in terms of installed capacity. Alongside major commercial solar installations, successive governments have supported initiatives that encourage solar panel uptake among schools and homeowners. Between April and September 2016, the UK’s solar panels produced more electricity than coal – on one particularly sunny day solar farms produced six times more energy than coal.

6. Italy (22.6GW)

Italy’s presence in the rankings is atypical since it is a net energy importer and lacks many of the assets of its peers. In spite of this solar makes up almost 10 percent of the country’s energy mix and is set to double in the next decade; Eurostat has even suggested that Italy could exceed its 2020 target. This method of power generation not only represents an opportunity for Italy to exploit a resource it has in abundance, but also a chance to reduce dependence on foreign generation.

5. Germany (48.4GW)

Germany has hit the headlines in recent years for making a number of significant commitments to renewable energy. Its Energiewende strategy aims to ensure that, by 2050, the country obtains at least 60 percent of its energy from renewable sources as part of its drive to slash carbon emissions. As Europe’s leading country for renewables, Germany boasts nearly 30 significant PV generation plants, which each generate at least 20MW annually. And, similar to the UK, the country is breaking its own solar records this year.

4. India (57.4GW)

Entering into the solar game as recently as 2011, India is predicted to make massive strides in production by 2020, with the World Bank providing $1 billion in lending in this year alone. And according to PowerWeb, its solar boom has only just begun, with the Modi government aiming to have an installed capacity of 100GW by 2022. As a developing country, solar also plays an extended role in heating and purifying water in many Indian regions and exemplifies the potential to leapfrog generation methods used by more developed countries.

3. Japan (63.3GW)

With long established technology and manufacturing sectors, Japan was a natural early adopter of solar generation and continues to innovate in the sector, aiming for solar to meet 10 percent of the country’s energy demands by 2050. Japan is notable for its Solar Ark building completed in 2002 which is one of the world’s largest solar buildings and serves to educate visitors about sustainability. A Japanese company recently made the world’s most efficient solar panel.

2. United States (85.3GW)

The USA has the technology, talent and environmental conditions required for large-scale solar rollout (not to mention the ever-increasing demand). But political support for renewables has been patchy to say the least, and with Trump threatening to withdraw America from the Paris Agreement the future for solar in America is far from certain. Nevertheless, the country’s solar prospects are far from bleak. A number of states have set high renewable energy goals and solar will inevitably make a significant contribution to these. As it stands, the US is home to many of the world’s largest solar installations, as well as advanced domestic capabilities.

1. China (130.4GW)

Frankly, China’s environmental record leaves a lot to be desired. This perception goes a long way to explain why its recent efforts haven’t received much attention, despite the country expanding its solar capacity by 81 percent last year. The country is aiming to generate 20 percent of its power using renewable means by 2030 – a feat made all the more exciting given its previous track record. By 2014 the country accounted for as much as 70 percent of the world’s total installed solar thermal capacity – a trend it is keen to see continued.

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Jun 25, 2021

UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC

Dominic Ellis
5 min
The UK must put an end to a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices warns the Climate Change Committee

The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.

While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.

"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."

The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.

  • Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
  • Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
  • Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
  • Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
  • Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.

In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies. 

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”

Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society. 

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."

Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).

Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

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