Solar power has seen explosive growth around the world in the last ten years, and is expected to continue growing through the next 30 years. According to projected data, solar will see the largest growth over the next 30 years over any other type of energy!  At the same time, non-renewable sources will continue on a sharp decline, allowing renewable sources of energy to take over. But, how is solar energy used around the world?

world electricity generation by source
Source: Energy Transition Outlook

There are many ways we harness the sun for power these days, including powering DisneyWorld! We all know about home solar panels, community solar and commercial solar, such as large solar arrays installed in fields used to power companies. All of these sources add energy to the power grid, getting rid of harmful uses of coal and oil. And with other types of renewable energy also on the rise, we will soon be looking at a new world powered by renewables! Let’s take a look at all the amazing ways people around the world are harnessing and using different types of renewable energy!

scotland wind energy

1. Wind Powered All Scotland Homes for 6 Months 

Did you ever imagine Scotland would be one of the leaders in generating renewable energy? Wind energy, to be exact. Yes, wind energy now powers all of Scotland’s bagpipes, and its homes.

In 2017, Scotland generated so much wind energy from all of their wind turbines across its expansive landscape, that it powered all of its homes for 6 months. That is, over 3 million homes. Then, in 2019, Scotland made leaps and bounds towards their renewable energy goals. Scotland generated enough energy from wind power to supply its homes twice over, and that was just between January and June of that year!

Now, let’s see what their neighbors in the UK are doing!

2. UK Hits New Landmarks of Going Coal-Free

The UK is doing its own great things in terms of renewable energy. In 2019, the UK set a new record of going coal-free for an entire week, something that hadn’t been done since 1882- the days of the Industrial Revolution!

Then, again in 2020, they hit another landmark and went without coal for 2 full weeks. Before they know it, the UK will kick coal to the curb for good! They were very proud of themselves, as they should be. Dr Simon Evans of Carbon Brief said that year:

“So far, this year renewables have generated more electricity than fossil fuels and that’s never happened before.”

Way to go! As a prize, here’s a video of some old coal plants crushing to the ground:

3. The City of Sydney Powered by 100% Renewable Energy

Let’s now travel across the globe to another country down under that is making leaps and bounds when it comes to renewable energy: Australia.

Another milestone for renewable energy happened in 2020 when the city of Sydney announced it will now run exclusively on renewables. This was forecasted to “save half a million dollars and 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere over the next 10 years!”

That means all of Sydney’s city buildings, streetlights, parks and event centers are now powered by 2 solar farms and one wind farm. That’s how to lead the pack and show the rest of the world how it’s done, Sydney!

solar energy in australia

4. South Australia Powered by Only Solar for 1 Hour

What about all that sunshine they have? Well, Australia seems to know how to put it to good use.

In 2020, Australia hit another renewable energy milestone when the entire southern Australia area ran on only solar power for a full hour. Another world’s first!

What’s even more amazing was that entire part of the country was powered through about 80% rooftop home solar systems and the remaining from large-scale solar farms.

5. Virginia Is the First Southern US State to Pursue 100% Renewable Energy

Let’s hop back to the U.S. for a minute and pat ourselves on the back. Speaking of aggressive renewable energy goals for a city, in 2020, Virginia became the first southern U.S. state to pursue a goal of 100% renewable energy. This is a major accomplishment and trendsetter for the rest of the southern United States.

Virginia joined 7 other U.S. states that have already committed to a goal of 100% clean energy by 2040. As of 2019, here are the U.S. cities that are 100% powered by renewable energy: Burlington, Vermont, Aspen, Colorado, and Greensburg, Kansas.

6. World’s First English Rail Line Directly Powered By Solar Energy

Alright, let’s go back to the U.K. for a minute. Solar powered trains, anyone? It’s not the future; they’re already here! Well, in Hampshire, England, to be exact.

One of their rail lines in Hampshire is now powered by solar panels. One hundred solar panels were installed next to the line to give it power and it opened to the public in August 2019.

Are more solar powered trains on their way in the future? Some people seem to think this could be the future of rail.

how is solar energy used around the world: floating solar farms china

7. China Breaks the Record with the Largest Floating Solar Farm– and the Cutest Solar Farms

In Huainan, a coal-rich city in the south Anhui province of China, a floating solar farm that broke the record for the largest in the world was turned on back in 2017.  This solar farm provides enough energy for around 15,000 households and utilizes an area of land otherwise unusable. In fact, it happens to be sitting on a deserted coal mine. China has led the way for this bright idea, and other countries are following their lead. Like this floating solar farm in the Ukraine that is turning a part of the Chernobyl site into a large renewable energy farm.

In 2018, China got to work to build another solar farm set to break the world record once again. It seems as though China is leading the floating solar farm competition, and they also have the cutest display of solar panels we’ve ever seen. (Hint: it’s a panda.)

Ready to head somewhere tropical?

how is solar energy used around the world: costa rica renewable energy

8. Costa Rica went 300 Days on 100% Renewable Energy

There’s a reason Costa Rica is one of the happiest places in the world, and part of that reason is because of their dedication to green energy. In fact, they are a world leader in renewable energy: Costa Rica is known for generating over 99% of its electricity from renewable sources!

Over the last several years, Costa Rica has been slowly pushing how long they can last on just renewable energy. In 2017, they broke the record for longest consecutive days on only renewable energy of 300 days! They shattered their own record from 2015 of 299 days. Costa Rica isn’t stopping there as they continue to push forward with new landmarks every year.

9. Bogota Solar Powered Cable Cars

In Colombia, cable cars help to shuttle the people of Bogota up and down the mountain over Cuidad Bolivar each day. This cable car system, called “TransMiCable,” transports about 20,000 residents a day and is powered by solar power. Each car has two solar panels on top, transporting residents to their daily destinations with no carbon footprint.

iceland geothermal energy

 10. Iceland Powered by Geothermal

Just a little further up north, they are harnessing a different type of renewable energy since the sunshine isn’t as plentiful. We’re talking about Iceland and geothermal energy. Almost 100% of Iceland’s power comes from renewable sources, mainly geothermal. Iceland is one of the major pioneers in harnessing geothermal energy, thanks to more than 200 volcanoes and many hot springs. In fact, Iceland became one of the richest countries in Europe after they ditched non-renewable energy sources.

How is solar energy used around the world? 

The answer is clear: in lots of creative ways around the world, with new innovations in energy solutions every day! The world seems to be on the right track when it comes to renewable energy, it’s time to get on board! Find out how easy it is to switch to clean renewable solar energy.