There is no question that solar energy will power the future. The question is which countries will be leading the charge of innovation and inspiration.
Solar is in the midst of a transformative golden age that has seen its efficiency and large-scale viability balloon throughout the past decades. Along with wind, it will be one of the primary renewable energy sources powering the future of the world.
The world finds itself at the precipice of a new chapter in the story of humanity. Major breakthroughs in engineering have brought the possibility of satisfying humanity's energy needs through renewable, green sources.
However, fossil fuels remain a cheap source of energy. The question before countries around the globe is to see which will choose to invest in the future of energy and lead the world into sustainability.
America's appetite for innovation has long made it a leader on the global stage. The nation's extensive roster of creators, inventors, and artists has been responsible for advancements across a wide range of disciplines and industries, allowing the United States - and the world - to take quantum leaps forward into new frontiers.
The examples of American ingenuity are numerous. In 1879, the light bulb lit up in the mind of the Wizard of Menlo Park, and soon its glow swept across houses, cities, and countries throughout the world.
Not long after, two brothers proved to the world that manned flight was not just a flight of fancy, and ushered in an era that would see the world shrink and opportunities grow.
The U.S. has as distinguished history pioneering technological innovations and scientific breakthroughs.
By the end of the same century, America had successfully shown that landing on the moon was not lunacy, and had brought the world together with the connective power of the world wide web.
With the presence of solar forecasted to grow by 43% in the next 4 years, it's no longer a question of whether the world will eventually transition to sustainable energy sources, but rather: Which country will lead the charge?
Will the United States take advantage of its colossal wealth to man the helm as we sail towards a greener horizon? Or will we pass the torch to another nation, allowing them to become a beacon on a hill?
No economy in recorded history as seen as much sustained economic growth as the Chinese economy over past three decades. Averaging an expansion rate of 10%, the country has watched its GDP skyrocket to $12 trillion, and 800 million people have ascended into the middle class.
In the wake of its newly-acquired prosperity, the country has ramped-up its investments across a range of modernization initiatives, including the strengthening of their renewable energy sector.
By bolstering the country's network of solar and renewable energy options, China will at last be able to apply itself to addressing two major problems that have long plagued it - worrying levels of pollution and prohibitive energy costs.
China has found a light at the end of a smog-filled tunnel glowing in the form of a solar-fueled future.
With its high energy-efficiency, absence of harmful emissions, and independence from volatile energy markets, solar has provided an unmatchable avenue for reducing pollution, powering remotes provinces, and freeing up capital for more strategic investments than the acquisition of expensive, fickle fossil fuels.
As a result, the East Asian powerhouse invested a staggering $86.5 billion in developing their solar infrastructure last year alone, and has already met its desired solar targets for 2020. That has placed China as the clear world leader of solar installation, a position they will hold into the future.
Of course, China's interest in solar comes as no surprise. With a GDP that's on course to surpass that of the United States’, it only makes sense that they solidify their position as an emerging economic superpower by becoming the leading purveyors of a technology upon which the rest of the world will come to rely.
Current estimates anticipate that the world will run out of all non-renewable energy sources within the next century, making a conversion to renewables non-negotiable, and the provider of these technologies very prosperous.
While China and the U.S lead the world in solar investments, it's Germany that holds the crown for deriving the greatest percentage of their total energy usage through solar technology.
With 6.9% of their energy fueled by the sun, Germany outpaced China's implementation at a rate of more than 3-to-1.
However impressive their present share of energy being sourced from solar may be, they're far from satisfied. By 2050, the country hopes to generate 80% or more of its energy through renewable solutions.
Serving as a cautionary tale about the consequences of opting to remain addicted to non-renewable energy sources is South Africa.
Despite having access to solar, hydroelectric, and wind alternatives, the small nation has remained faithful to its coal industry, and this devotion has turned into a fatal attraction.
Drawing more than 95% of its energy from coal, the country has contaminated and acidified its waterways in the process. This, in turn, has amplified the impact of existing draughts upon the region, and threatened its economic stability.
Aside from cleaner skies, and lower energy bills, there may be other reasons motivating countries to invest in solar energy.
At present, the solar industry yields new jobs at a rate of 17 times that of the American economy. For countries with an emerging middle class, the solar field may be an ideal way of absorbing the new influx of workers while simultaneously propping up an industry that will make them (quite literally) power players on the global stage.
Additionally, no country's economy will ever suffer from lack of exposure to volatile energy markets, surging oil costs, or the productivity-hampering tolls on residents brought about by exposure to polluted airways.
There is still hope for the United States to become the leader in the migration to solar.
Despite the U.S’ departure from the Paris Accord, the nation's businesses recognize that the future will revolve around the sun, and, according to the IEA, it continues to be the second biggest investor in solar energy. This is largely due to multi-year federal tax incentives and green-friendly policies in many states.
But those incentives are scheduled for phase-out! Unless political action is taken, the huge federal tax credit will soon be eliminated in just a few years.
Additionally, the states are still a leading center of research into the very technologies that form the core of the hardware used to harness the sun's energy. Universities such as the Oregon Institute of Technology, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are all powerful drivers behind solar's evolution.
While the U.S is far from falling behind at present in terms of its investment in and implementation of solar solutions, it is unlikely to keep pace with other global players unless its residents continue to stoke the flames of change.
The collective voice of elections express what the people want. So make your voice heard! Opt for candidates that reflect your values, and prioritize the U.S’ ability to remain competitive at a global level.
Similarly, invest in a solar system for your own home, and create the market demand needed for the technology to continue evolving. If you can't afford a solar array, but want to join the green revolution and start saving today, lease a solar installation from Neeeco Solar for no money down!
It's no coincidence that the five countries with the greatest levels of investment in solar technology are also the world's five most economically successful countries. Follow their economic lead!
Though commuters trapped in Boston's infuriating, congested traffic-scape might have preferred for these emissions’ reductions to have been accomplished by actually taking 500,000 cars off of the streets, they can at least find solace in the knowledge that the air that they're inhaling as they hyperventilate with rage at the drivers around them is pure.
Show the world that you're ready to take advantage of the benefits solar can bring you, and call Neeeco for a free quote today.