Who uses photovoltaics
The first use of photovoltaics was to power satellites. On Earth, there are applications for photovoltaics that have similar requirements. These include locations that are hard to connect to the grid, and where maintenance should be avoided. Signalling buoys floating in the sea, mountain cabins and parking meters often run on light these days.
Supplying small, remote loads reliably has been the main application of photovoltaics from the 1960s till a few years ago. But as the cost of photovoltaics has come down through research and mass manufacturing, a new way of using this remarkable technology is gaining ground: grid connected operation. Today, more and more solar power, captured by distributed photovoltaic systems, is flowing into the grid.
People and businesses start to generate power for their own needs, and and sell the excess to the grid. Similar to wind farms, solar farms are being installed. In several European countries, this has taken off in a big way. Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic and other countries have seen their solar markets grow rapidly in recent years. Germany, which has the highest amount of photovoltaic capacity at about 330W per person, should see about 4% of its power needs covered by photovoltaics in 2012.
After introducing feed-in tariffs in 2010, the UK has seen strong growth in the deployment of photovoltaics in 2010 and 2011, and now has about 1 GWp of PV installed.
Even more exciting is the deployment of large-scale photovoltaic solutions throughout the developing world where photovoltaic electricity is already cost-competitive with diesel and certain other grid sources. Large industrial users are finding that new solar capacity can be deployed more quickly than other generation types, provides a more stable price, creates local employment, and can easily be installed where it's most needed. All this, without subsidy!
Everyone with access to the sun can generate clean electricity