According to the latest European Union Joint Research Center report on solar power, two thirds of the solar panels installed in the world were placed in Europe, generating over 18.5 gigawatts of solar energy. The European Commission's goal is to increase renewable energy to over 20 percent by 2020. The report also mentioned that the most rapid annual growth within the past five years has occured in Asia. China is the largest producer of photovoltaic solar panels and its growth is projected to increase.
Where the US stands
The US Department of Energy under the Obama administration launched a $35 billion program to support renewable energy. In 2011, the US solar projects only totaled 1,855 megawatts of solar energy, however, solar panel installation in the US is projected to double by the end of 2012. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, installation of solar project should reach approximately 2.8 gigawatts next year. However, that is all dependent on the outcome of this November's election.
A recent article published in the New York Times highlights the shift in Mitt Romney's opinions on energy and the environment to the right since becoming the Republican nominee for president. In previous years he showed excitement for initiatives that would reduce the United State's green house gas emissions such as cap-and-trade systems and energy-efficient cars, but in more recent conversations on his thoughts regarding energy and the environment he has backed away from reducing emissions and focused more on assisting industry and increasing oil drilling. In particular, Romney has stated that if elected, he will not only discontinue wind and solar power subsidies and toss out regulations that discourage burning coal for electricity but also immediately approve the Keystone pipeline.
Although the fate of solar energy in the United States is unsure, the rest of the world seems to be picking up their pace. The US is falling behind in the solar energy race, and the consequences remain unseen. If the US wants to compete with other nations' energy goals, it seems that initiatives should to be consistent for more than four years in a row. Total dependence on oil as our primary energy source is not efficient as it is a non-renewable resource. The divide between the current administration and the GOP could be enough to destroy any solar progress the US has made in the past couple years.
Post by Jeana Brookes, a law and energy enthusiast and avid blogger. Read more of her material at Modern-Parents.com.