5 Great Places to Harness Solar Power

The technology behind solar cells has grown rapidly over the last few decades, and commercial and residential solar systems are becoming more common throughout the world but have yet to reach a wider audience. Here are some of the best countries where solar panels should be a given, based on government support and incentives and growing solar industries.

1. The United States of America

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone, but the good ole U.S. of A is a leader in solar power research and development thanks to funding from the Department of Energy. It’s just one of two countries with existing large scale solar power plants. Much of the growth has come from state efforts, but the federal government continues to create incentives, including, for instance, greater tax credits for solar panel installation and solar water heaters.

Unfortunately, only about 1 percent of renewable energy in the country comes from solar power, but the country itself gets plenty of sunshine, particularly in the Southwest, with California leading all other states in solar efforts.

2. France

France’s success in solar power comes mainly from tax credits and feed-in tariffs, a pricing structure that essentially allows solar power users to receive money from their energy suppliers for a set period of time. The country recently established feed-in tariffs for large commercial buildings using solar cells and tax credits for all solar cell equipment.

Although most of France’s solar power comes from small installations connected to the country’s power grids, the French government aims to create large solar cell plants similar to the one they have in Narbonne.

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3. Australia

Plenty of land and remote locale, Australia is a prime spot for solar cells, though most are not connected directly to the power grid. However, off-grid solar cells have been put to great use, particularly in non-residential applications like powering water pumps in deserts in central Australia. Although there is certainly plenty of potential for solar panel installers to add cells throughout the country, Australia hasn’t made any significant additions to its solar cell capacity since 2006. The one thing keeping the industry up: the government has doubled the residential grant for small scale solar cell installations.

4. South Korea

The number of solar cells in South Korea more than doubled in 2007. About half of the country’s solar power comes from centralized plants, which sell their electricity to utility companies for resale to businesses and homes. Sinan, located in southern Korea, is home to a solar power plant that is reportedly the largest power plant in Asia. Korea has set its sights high, hoping for a low-carbon society and more developments in its solar industry, which it sees as a major source for economic growth.

5. Germany

Germany has seen some amazing success thanks to the feed-in tariff, which has consistently supported the growing industry since 2004. The country has increased its solar power use and capacity and also developed new solar cell equipment and silicon wafers.

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