Solar energy is harvested through solar photovoltaic (PV) devices that are deployed at a variety of levels including small, decentralized units for small appliances to utility-scale solar farms. Solar energy is one of the more popular renewable energies due to minimal impacts to landscape and declining economic costs.
The U.S. has a long history with solar energy and is home to several large solar facilities, particularly in the sunnier southwest. Although the solar resource is strongest in the hot and arid climates, it can be efficiently deployed in a variety of climates.
The U.S. now produces over 40 GW of solar energy, which is behind Germany (41.22 GW), Japan (42.75 GW) and China (78.07 GW). The next highest producer of solar energy is Italy (19.28 GW). Ohio produces 138.5 MW of solar energy, which is ranked 12th in the nation. While Ohio isnt known for being a particularly sunny state, there is a moderate amount of solar energy deployment, primarily in the western part of the state. A 12 MW solar farm in Wyandot County began producing energy in 2009, and a 20MW currently exists in Bowling Green, with much larger projects anticipated in the near future(*link to article). In addition to PV deployment, Ohio is also home to a number of solar panel manufacturers, tieing the industry to local economies. A 2012 report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center identified 65 key manufacturers in the solar panel supply chain with roughly 1,500 solar manufacturing jobs in Ohio.
The development of PVs have worldwide impacts of reducing greenhouse gases, but also increases the demand for rare metals used in the actual devices or in the batteries for storage. The U.S. does have a lithium mine in Nevada, but the demand that will be associated with the renewable energy transition will place the environmental costs on developing nations in South America and Asia.