What Is Solar Energy & How It Is Driving Renewable Energy

What Is Solar Energy & How It Is Driving Renewable Energy

Solar energy works by converting the sun’s energy, visible light & infrared, into electricity that can be used to power homes and industries. 

Solar power is one of the most abundant and cleanest energy sources today, is perfect for land-scarce countries like Singapore and easily integrated into both the home-setting and commercial businesses.

In fact, in Singapore, solar power is set to ramp up over seven times from current 2019 levels by 2030 with a target installed capacity of 2 gigawatt-peak from 260 megawatt-peak!

Globally, the solar energy market is expected to grow to US$223.3 billion by 2026 from just US$52.5 billion back in 2018.

How Solar Energy Is Harnessed

Solar energy is mainly captured and harnessed through photovoltaics or more commonly known as solar PVs while another method is solar thermal capture.

Solar PVs work by allowing photons (particles of light) to knock away electrons from atoms, creating electricity in the process. With solar PV prices falling over 59% over the last decade, countries both developed and developing are embracing PVs to help generate electricity in both populated and rural areas.

Solar thermal capture is another way solar energy is harnessed in a way that either reduces the need for electricity or indirectly generates electricity itself.

The most common solar thermal capture is for low-temperature applications such as a swimming pool or home heating system that collects heat from the sun, warming up the home and water use.

One interesting way that solar thermal capture is done to generate electricity is by using a group of mirrors to concentrate solar energy onto a central collector where water is filled. This water is boiled at high temperatures to produce steam which then turns a turbine that generates electricity!

The Advantages Of Solar Power

While solar energy requires expertise and upfront investment for its infrastructure, its benefits far outweigh the challenges, especially with solar PV technology getting better and cheaper with each passing year.

These advantages include:

  • A pollution-free energy source that emits no greenhouse gases during operation.
  • Solar PV generates electricity during the day all year round, even during cloudy days.
  • Space & installation-friendly as PVs can be fitted onto existing residential and commercial buildings, unlike wind power that requires dedicated land.
  • Solar panels are durable (lasting over 25 years) with minimal maintenance needed
  • Excess energy can be sold to the electricity grid or stored in batteries for use at night
  • Many countries today offer grants and subsidies to both individuals and businesses looking to install solar panels.

solar power

The Top 5 Solar Powered Countries

In 2018, power generation from solar PV has been estimated to reach over 570 TWh globally, highlighting an increase of 30% from one year ago, a growth led by countries that include China, the United States, India and Japan.

Let’s take a look at the top countries that are generating electricity from solar energy and how they are doing it!

1. China

China currently leads the world with an enormous installed cumulative solar energy capacity of 174 gigawatts in 2017 and has ambitious plans to reach 1,300 GW of solar capacity by 2050.

China hold’s the world record for the largest solar project at Tengger with an installed capacity of 1,547 MW.

2. United States

With over 51 gigawatts of installed solar energy capacity in 2017, the United States comes in second. 

In 2017, solar employment overtook the traditional energy sectors such as oil, gas and coal in the US with over 350,000 Americans employed in the solar energy industry.

3. Japan

Coming in third, Japan boasts a 49 gigawatts solar installed capacity in 2017 with solar power becoming a national priority since the hunt for alternative energy sources accelerated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

Japan’s solar power energy is sufficient to supply almost 5% of the nation’s annual electricity demands in 2016.

4. Germany

In 2017, Germany has cumulative solar installed capacity of 42 gigawatts, ranking it 3rd on our list.

Germany plans to supply 80% of the electricity the country needs from renewable sources by 2050 with solar energy leading the charge.

5. India

Due to its huge landmass, India is a country blessed with vast solar energy potential. The nation’s solar installed capacity grew to an impressive 31.7 gigawatts in 2019 from a modest 18.3 gigawatts in 2017.

India today is the lowest cost producer of solar energy with incredible economies of scale.

Solar & Green Electricity

Power Your Home With Solar & Green Electricity

As a land-scarce nation, solar power is one of the most practical solutions for our renewable energy needs and many Singaporean homes are already harnessing solar energy to generate electricity for their homes.

If you are a household in Singapore that have solar panels installed, you can now enjoy the electricity savings of the Open Electricity Market when you switch to iSwitch.

With iSwitch, you can enjoy green electricity and continue doing your part for the environment while enjoying significant savings off your monthly electric bill both from solar power and discounts versus SP services.

If you have solar panels installed and are interested to make the switch?

We can help with the switch from SP services to us as your retailer, the process takes 2-3 weeks to complete. Check out our electricity price plans and get in touch!

Keen to discover how we are making a difference and fighting climate change? Learn more about our sustainability efforts here.


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