sunmetrix solar world mapPeople love lists, so we thought we'd make a few of our own, all about solar energy! But there are so many different ways to consider the data. Are we talking about general interest in solar energy or actual solar panel installations? Are we talking about trends on a worldwide scale or on a regional scale? We think it's interesting to consider the data from different points of view, so here we go:

1) On a worldwide scale over the past twelve months, Australia showed the greatest interest in solar panels (determined by relative search volume on Google, as depicted on Google Trends), followed by the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and India. This trend does not speak to the actual number of searches, but only to each country's interest in solar panels compared to other subjects.

2) The actual installation numbers tell a different story. If we examine the installed capacity of solar panels in 2011, we see that, according to a European Commission report, Germany tops the list, followed by Italy, the rest of Europe (except Spain), China, the rest of the world (except for Europe, the U.S. and Japan), the United States, Japan and Spain.

3) In the United States, the interest in solar panels over the past twelve months, according to Google Trends, shows Hawaii at the top of the list, followed by Vermont, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, California, and Nevada.

4) The number of solar panel installations in the United States again tell a different story. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association in the United States, for 2010-2011, the top state with respect to photovoltaic installations is California, followed by New Jersey, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Nevada. Hawaii is ranked 11th in terms of PV installations. The latest available data for the second and third quarters of 2012 show that, while California still tops the list, Arizona has moved into second place, and Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maryland have moved into the top ten along with Hawaii, which ranks 9th.

5) In Canada, Google Trends puts Nova Scotia on top for interest in solar panels over the past twelve months, followed by Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec (no data for Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island).

6) But again, the number of actual solar panel installations in Canada paint a different picture. According to Natural Resources Canada, Ontario was the number one installer of solar panels, with 91% of solar power (photovoltaic) installations in 2011, with the rest of Canada accounting for 9% of PV installations.

The number of solar panel installations shows us where we are, but perhaps Google Trends gives us an idea of where we're heading. Something to think about...