The global growth in solar power has been phenomenal.

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This is time high was an amount of 35 GW in 2015. By the end of 2020, the European Union’s solar industry hopes to increase the installed capacity of solar cells and modules from 50 GW to 90 GW at a level sufficient to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets of 20% of electricity production by 20GW, 40% of electricity production by 30GW and 50% with over-saturation of the sun in summer.

Solar Photovoltaics (PV) is now the cleanest source of electricity worldwide and now also the fastest growing. The EU’s total commitment to support renewable energy is to produce 40% of power demand through renewables, and 40% of that by 2022 at the latest. In 2016, Europe added another 10 GW of PV, and 2020 is expected to see another 10% to 25%, with a cumulative 20% by 2032. Europe also aims to increase its photovoltaic capacity to 100 GW by 2030, and more than 70 GW capacity by 2040, with a corresponding contribution to the EU’s 2030 target to reach 60% of energy from renewable sources.

So, what is 1GW of power?

Well, a modern television can use as little as 100 watts per hour.

1000 Watts = 1 Kilowatt
1000 Kilowatts = 1 Megawatt
1000 Megawatts = 1 Gigawatt

1 Gigawatt then is equal to 1 Billion watts.

This work on the same basic metric system that hard drives and weights can be calculated on. Byte, Megabyte, Gigabyte and so on.

So, should a modern TV use 100 watts. You can then power 10 of them using 1 Kilowatt. Using this basic simple formula, you can easily calculate that 1 Gigawatt of power can power 10,000,000 (Ten Million) modern televisions or 500 000 electric heaters at 2kWh. (2000Wh-Watt Hours)

In Europe, three countries currently have substantial production with annual production totals over 1 GW: Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus. In Germany, production has reached 8 GW, which is projected to grow to 13 GW by 2022, with a cumulative total of 26 GW, which is more than the total capacity of the whole EU. With the deployment of new PV technology, Italy is expected to exceed the 12 GW mark by 2020.

The EU is not the only region where solar energy is growing well. The United States has also seen a rapid pace of growth in its solar industry. Solar power in the US is expected to grow from 4.8 GW in 2013 to 17 GW by 2022–up from 1.5 GW in 2010. China is expected to grow by over 70% from 6 GW in 2013 to 18 GW in 2022, reaching a total of around 130 GW. With our constant need for electricity, we must meet our power needs with the cleanest and most renewable energy wherever possible.

Solar Power on WikiPedia

Each of us can take personal responsibility for our own power needs. This can be done by either choosing a clean energy supplier, or having solar cells installed wherever possible. Furthermore, we can also lower the amount of carbon emissions by using less energy. However, in this modern world that’s easier said than done. We now need more energy than ever before. For everything from cars to toothbrushes, there’s almost nothing that doesn’t require plugging in every now and then.

Thanks to the internet, we can, and should look to other countries. Let’s take South Africa for example. South Africa now has something called “load shedding”. They are unable to supply all their citizens with a constant flow of power; therefore, they have times when the power is turned off in one area, and then turned on in another. This is mostly to meet the demands of businesses during the day.

That may seem bad, however in Beirut, Lebanon they have a different type of load shedding. Rather than the power just going off at certain times for only a few hours. It only goes on for a very short time each day. This means instead of getting eighteen hours of power per day and eight hours of load shedding, they have only one hour per day of electricity. Sometimes (and very rare) up to three hours per day.

These two countries are in ideal locations for solar panels and they both could have anticipated these problems. However, it’s too late for them now. At least they still could install solar panels and wind turbines, but it will still take them years to get back to 24-hour capacity. So, we should learn from them now rather than later. Let’s meet our own power needs and then some.

A country that exports energy like Belgium, is obviously doing something right. The UK on the other hand still needs to import power to meet demand. Should the UK lose these import connections, they too could end up with a form of load shedding, and with a no deal Brexit around the corner, this could become a real issue.

The UK government offers financial grants to home and business owners in order to have solar panels installed, costing a minimal amount for the home owner (sometimes nothing at all) and this helps towards the future national power needs of the United Kingdom.

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