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Could solar energy power an entire city? Well, globally we’ve gone from a capability of 1275 to 136,697 megawatts annually over the past 15 years, which is enough clean electricity to power over 27 million average homes. Its adoption, however, has been generally quite slow due to the financial commitment necessary. A medium sized system can start from $4000 – $6000, dependant on its complexity and capability. That being said, prices – and technology – are starting to become more digestible, and various incentives from energy companies are beginning to make the prospect of making the switch (or addition) more attractive.
There is one city that’s had an unprecedented growth in solar energy production, and it’s paying off big time. Rizhao, a city of 3 million people in Northern China, has implemented a combination of incentives and legislative tools to encourage the use of solar energy, amongst other renewable resources. 99% of Rizhao’s households use solar water heaters, while almost all traffic lights, street lights and park illuminations are powered by photovoltaic solar cells (solar panels). As a result, the city saves up to 3,8 billion kWh of coal-powered electricity each year. So far, Rizhao has effectively reduced its collective energy consumption by 30% – and that’s a big deal!
Meanwhile, Canada is now among the top 10 nations in solar energy production; although, the bulk of our energy production is happening in Ontario. It’s far surpassed the rest of the provinces in solar-supportive policies and education. Could Canada produce the same results as Rizhao? That remains to be seen. We’re currently a relatively small player in the game, and there is no centralized national energy policy driving the growth of solar energy in our country. That will likely begin to change though, as the demand for solar power continues to steadily increase. Cheaper panels mean that consumers will eventually be unable to ignore the savings available by using solar panels on their roof vs. buying electricity off the grid.
What do you think about the future of solar energy? Tweet me and let me know.