Spain Passed United States as Global Solar Leader

First, Nadal hoists the trophy at Wimbledon. Then La Roja bring home the World Cup. And now Spain overtakes the United States as the world's largest producer of solar energy . Everything's coming up Espana these days. (Not to mention Alberto Contador, who's lined up nicely to be sporting yellow as Le Tour arrives in Paris next Sunday.)

The new La Florida plant in the northern state of Navarra is the world's largest solar plant, and brings Spain's total solar output to 432 megawatts. (Compare that to the United States' 422.) La Florida is a solar thermal plant (which we wrote about awhile back ) that uses parabolic troughs to heat liquid in tubes, which in turn spins turbines and produces electricity.

If the United States has any hopes of taking back the top spot, we're going to have to act fast. Authorities in Spain say that they'll add another 600MW of solar energy within a year, and have a goal of 2,500MW by 2013. Spain's subsidies for solar and wind development are also amongst the tops globally. So it's no great mystery why they're leading the clean energy charge.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Worklife Siemens