Top 5 countries that have gone solar
By John McMalcolm
As more of the environment continues to deteriorate and electricity costs rise, more and more people around the world are considering switching to green energy.
One of the forms of green energy that are available today is solar energy. Solar energy can provide great benefits for homeowners and building owners, and it is increasingly being used in many countries.
Here are five countries that are leading the way in the adoption of solar energy:
Germany is the world leader in terms of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, with a total of 7.5 GW installed in 2011. In the same year, it had a PV capacity of 25 GW, and its PV systems produced 18 TWh of electricity, which was about three percent of its total electricity production. According to some experts, solar power may account for up to 25 percent of the country's total electricity generation by 2050.
Read more about solar power:
An excellent feed-in-tariff scheme, wide availability of good PV systems and services, easy financing and a high level of public awareness of solar PV technology are some of the factors that have contributed to Germany's success in solar adoption.
Spain is a country with great PV potential, because it receives more hours of sunshine than most other European countries. The government's focus on establishing a national solar energy industry has made the nation one of the largest solar PV markets in the world. In 2010, the total solar power in the country was about 4 GW, and the amount of solar energy generated was 6.9 TWh, which covered 2.7 percent of the total electricity demand.
Similar to Spain, Italy also gets plenty of sunlight, and it uses a combination of well-segmented feed-in-tariff and net-metering to become one of the top solar countries in the world. It had close to 156,000 PV plants with a total PV capacity of 3.4 GW, and produced 1,905 GWh of solar PV energy in 2011.
Japan has been expanding its solar energy industry since the 1990s, and it is now one of the leading manufacturers and users of solar panels in the world. In 2011, its solar PV installations totaled 4.9 GW, most of which was grid-connected.
The amount of sunshine received in the U.S. is rising every year, and this has provided the ideal condition for the adoption of solar energy. States have implemented various policies to support the use of solar power, resulting in a significant increase in solar PV installations across the country. There are plans in place to construct more large-scale solar power facilities, which will boost solar energy capacity in the coming years.
Financial benefits of solar energy
One of the main reasons why so many households are starting to use solar energy is because of its great financial benefits.
Using solar energy can help households save more than $1,000 on energy costs every year. It also enables them to make some extra money by selling excess energy to utility companies.
Additionally, it can significantly increase the value of a home. Many utility companies are also switching to solar power to save energy and reduce costs.
Efforts are constantly being made to make solar energy affordable to the masses, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a mainstream energy source.
About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from environmental protection to biographies of famous entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Mark Cuban and Cecilia Ibru.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.