Top Ten Solar Cleantech Programs Globally

Solar power has been used since the ancient times as it is one of the easiest, most efficient, and most available sources of renewable energy existent. Because of its affordable price tag and the fact it is a constant source of energy; many locations throughout the world have harnessed the power of the sun in an effort to cut down on their use of fossil fuels. Here are just a few of the top solar power programs going on around the globe.

1) BP Solar. BP is one of the largest global energy companies, providing customers with heat and light energy, fuel for transportation, and other energy services. BP created its solar program which focuses on many places around the world, including the United States, Germany, Greece, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Middle East. As a large integrated energy company, it is looking past traditional sources of energy and, with an understanding of climate change, investing in cleaner technologies. BP Solar Australia, for example, offers “solar power solutions for residential, commercial and industrial applications…our expertise is in the design, supply, installation and commissioning of all kinds of solar systems and applications.”

2) Sustainable Queen Anne. Located in Seattle, Washington is Sustainable Queen Anne – a project funded by the Queen Anne community to provide solar power throughout the Washington State capital. Through this project, Seattle-based residents and businesses are able to buy solar panels for a portion of their electricity needs and have them installed at a cost that is less than typical solar installations. Created by Solarize Seattle, the project looks to drive up the number of locations benefiting from solar energy.

3) Solar Energy Technologies Program. Set up by the United States Department of Energy, the Solar Energy Technologies Program supports the use of solar energy technologies using various initiative structures. Through a partnership with different industries and governmental organizations (both federal and local), the program seeks to provide more solar options at cost-effective prices. A current initiative is the Solar Decathlon, a challenge for 20 collegiate teams to design, build, and then operate houses powered by solar energy that are not only energy efficient, but also cost-effective and attraction.

4) Renewable Energy Corporation (REC). Based in Norway, the Renewable Energy Corporation looks to elevate the utilization of sources of solar energy. It is the leading global provider of solar solutions. The objective is to be a main contributor for creating a prosperous future for the solar energy industry. To increase solar viability, the goal is to lower production costs, pursuing solar technology development programs, and initiatives that are cost-effective. The corporation has been a leading solar energy supplier not just in Norway but around the world and has also increased jobs.

5) South African Solar Park. South Africa, upon realizing the abundance of sun they receive, second only to California, in 2010, announced plans to create the world’s largest solar park. South Africa’s immense ability to harness solar energy, coupled with its need to provide energy to more rural locations and the rising cost of importing fossil fuels, has made it a prime location, and according to CalFinder Solar, a global solar contractor, actually a more beneficial location than California for a large scale project. The solar park would be a testing facility for new solar technologies.

6) Costa Rican Solar Energy Capabilities in Rural Locations. Costa Rica has long been devoted to renewable energy, and its abundance of sun has made solar energy one of the most widely used forms of renewable energy. Through new programs, mainly funded by the United Nations Development Program, numerous impoverished villages are now receiving electricity via solar technology, mainly solar panels. The funding provided enabled Costa Rica to bypass the often expensive cost of implementing solar power equipment. Now villages still relying on candlelight can enjoy electricity.

7) Qatar Solar Schools Project.In Qatar, education about renewable energy is vastly important as it is students today who will be running the country tomorrow. Therefore, GreenGulf Inc., a Qatari company, in partnership with Qatar School Technologies and Solar World, created a new program that will aid in powering Qatar schools using solar energy. Currently, there are four schools benefiting from solar energy. Not only does the school receive solar energy, but students are taught about the importance of renewable energy and becoming environmentally responsible.

8 ) India’s National Solar Plan. With a majority of India enjoying over 300 days of direct sunshine each year, harnessing it through solar energy could provide India with most of its power requirements. While there are many international solar power plants in India, many only export due to lack of in-country requirements. Therefore, the National Solar Plan seeks to increase its endeavors into solar energy, by mandating Roof Top Solar PV power for all Indian government buildings, promotion of solar PV plants, as well as a number of incentives, including feed-in tariffs, tax holidays, and custom duty exemptions.

9) Argentina Renewable Energy for Rural Markets Project. In Argentina, one of the largest problems is the lack of energy available to many rural locations across the country. Over 30,000 households and schools are located off the central grid in rural locations, inhibiting them from meeting any electricity demands. The Renewable Energy for Rural Markets Project seeks to offer locations with different renewable energy technologies, one of the main ones being solar technology, so they are able to meet their electricity demands while living off the main electricity grid.

10) World’s Largest Solar Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. The Masdar Company, located in Abu Dhabi, partnering with Europe’s Abengoa Solar, has created a $600 million initiative for a solar plant that will provide toward the growing energy needs of the Middle Eastern city. It will provide enough solar energy to the national grid to create a dent in rising energy costs in Abu Dhabi.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at

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