While solar energy is used worldwide and even in space, the country with the most installed solar capacity is Germany. According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, Germany had approximately 35 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2013, almost double its closest competitor. China, Italy, Japan and the United States round out the top five countries with installed solar capacity.Continue Reading
Solar energy is particularly well-suited for countries near the equator, since the sun's energy is most concentrated when it is directly overhead. Climate also plays a role, with hot, dry areas experiencing fewer bouts of precipitation that can block the sun's energy and reduce solar output. The best areas of the globe for solar energy include the Mojave Desert in the United States, the Sahara Desert in North Africa and much of the continent of Australia. Solar installations are particularly useful for remote areas of a country because power generation can happen on-site without the need for expensive and dangerous high-voltage electricity transmission lines.
Solar power is also a vital part of space-exploration programs. Long-duration space missions require a power source that can provide energy for instruments and systems over an extended period, and the sun provides plenty of free energy to power probes, satellites and other craft. The International Space Station features eight solar-panel wings that provide electricity for the station's systems and experiments.Learn more about Electrical