When people talk about solar energy, most of them just think about solar photovoltaic (PV) that generates electricity from sun rays. While this is a great energy source, there is a much simpler one : solar thermal.
This is why my interest was brought to an IEA report on how this heat source is growing up in the world. In 2011, the capacity increased by 14.3 percent to reach the total capacity of 234.6 GWth corresponding to a total of 335.1 million square meters.
China and Europe are the main markets for this technology with over 80 percent of the total with 152.2 GWth and 39.3 GWth of installed capacity, respectively.
Both regions accounted for 92 percent of the added capacity in 2011. This means that other regions and countries are adding very little capacity.
At the end of 2011, the United States and Canada represented only 7.1 percent of the total capacity, Asia excluding China, only 4.1 percent, Latin America a tiny 2.7 percent while Australia and New Zealand were representing a tiny two percent.
Regarding 2011 installations, the figures are relatively comparable as China added over 80 percent of the global capacity and Europe, eight percent. All the other nations added as much as Europe alone.
Given how solar thermal is cheaper than solar PV and can help eat water and buildings, I believe it is high time we talk more about this renewable energy source.
For many more facts and figures about this, please download the entire PDF report from the IEA.