Solar power gears up for world domination8th May 2012
There's no doubt that solar power has grown in popularity over recent years - just think about how many of your neighbours now have installed solar panels on their roofs compared to a decade ago.
The good news is that this upward trend looks set to continue for the next five years - or so a report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) would have us believe.
In fact, solar power systems look set to become more popular than ever, as capacity around the world is expected to grow by between 200 and 400 per cent by 2017.
Although Europe was identified as having the biggest market for solar electricity, other regions are soon to pick up pace.
EPIA's secretary-general Reinhold Buttgereit explained to Reuters that China and India are not far behind Europe, with south-east Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa following closely behind.
"The growth will depend on the support of politicians. It's not only about money, it's also about reducing bureaucracy," Reinhold said.
The uptake of solar panels is boosted by government incentives such as the feed-in tariff, but the report expressed concern that the declining cost of solar power systems could mean these initiatives are cut.
Authors even went so far as to say that these incentives rely on the cost of solar power systems being high, otherwise they are rendered useless.
It would appear that our friends in Germany are currently doing best in the solar stakes and will be the major global driver for the remainder of 2012.
China is ranked in second place, followed by the US and Japan - Italy, on the other hand, was identified as the fastest growing market in 2011.
So what about us here in Australia? Well, the EPIA report makes little mention of our efforts, but this isn't to say we're not making any!
The price of solar panels has come down quite considerably over recent years, as noted in a report from McKinsey, a global management consulting firm.
Most of us factor cost into our purchasing decisions these days, but the study found that the underlying price of the panels will work to consumers' advantages.
Maybe when this starts to take effect, we too can be considered one of the world's forerunners in the world of renewable energy.
Until then, we all just have to keep doing our bit and hope our efforts don't continue to go unnoticed - Australia is more than capable of competing with these major overseas markets.
Posted by Mike Peacock