As the sun revolves around the globe, more and more countries are generating solar power at small and large-scale capacities. And in 2022, the decade-long boom of the international solar energy industry continues to grow.
Which Countries are Producing the Most Solar energy?
First and foremost, we must start by saying that the amount of solar power capacity is always increasing around the world. While this is an exciting notion to combat climate change, it also makes it very hard to quantify the actual amount of power generation in any given country at one time, especially as small-scale and dispersed solar energy continues to grow in popularity.
With that all being said, here are the top ten solar-powered countries in the world today.
China has a bigger solar energy capacity than any other country in the world, at a gargantuan 130 gigawatts. It also still holds the record for the largest operational solar project in its 1,547-MW project at Tengger, recorded in 2018. These feats are made easier by the fact that China is the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, which has seen it already exceed the government’s 2020 target for solar installations, offsetting a significant carbon footprint.
2. The United States
With 102.9 GW of solar power capacity, the USA stands second in the list of top solar countries. From a measly capacity of 0.34 GW in 2008, the nation has come a long way in the solar domain.
Moreover, US’s solar potential is huge. According to a report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an area the size of Lake Michigan (around 22,000 sq. miles), covered with solar panels, would be enough to power the entire country. If the efficiency of the panels is raised, this area could be reduced by half.
The solar market in the US is also growing at a rapid rate. Sources claim that solar jobs have increased by 167% in the nation.
Although being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and not having the luxury to cover large portions of land with photovoltaic panels, Japan remains one of the leading countries in solar energy production. After the Fukushima explosion in 2011, the country has made a serious commitment to environmental actions.
In 2021, it produced about 74.2 GW of solar energy, compared to around 6.6 GW in 2012 (Statista). On the other hand, renewable energy sources represent 20.1% of total energy production.
Germany has been Europe’s leader in solar power since the turn of the millennium. With the second-most PV solar capacity per capita installed in the world, Germany surpassed the 50,000 MW mark in 2020. As the former world leader in total installed capacity, information from this 2016 fact sheet below shows exactly how the country managed to become so prolific in the industry.
Although it is in 4th place on the list, India is investing heavily in the deployment of solar energy. It started doing so in 2011 and made very interesting progress in 2020 (even with the impact of the pandemic).
As of 2021, it accounted for 57.4 GW of solar energy capacity: a straddling figure, considering the country only produced 2.6GW in 2014.
According to the latest data, 38% of energy production comes from renewable sources. This figure makes India one of the countries that use clean energy the most.
Although Italy has historically relied on foreign imports for a significant proportion of its energy, as of 2018, solar PV accounts for 7.9% of electricity demand, making the country a major leader in solar power generation and development. After the EU set a target to generate 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, Italy was one of eleven nations to reach the objective years in advance of the deadline.
7. United Kingdom
Government initiatives encouraging schools, businesses, and homes to introduce solar panels, alongside a decrease in the cost of PV technology, have helped the UK establish itself as a leading country in solar power production. In 2017, solar accounted for 3.4% of Britain’s total electricity generation, up from 3.1% in 2016. The government also expects that 4 million homes will be solar-powered by 2020.
Down Under, Australia has the most PV solar per capita installed in the world with over 3 million independently operating sites. With a huge majority of the country’s materials coming from China to the north, Australia’s solar potential is unmatched. Looking at the irradiance data below, you’ll see that the continent is practically built for solar power.
The French solar market grew by 59% in the first six months of 2018, mainly driven by large-scale solar installations. Overall, the country’s cumulative installed PV power surpassed an impressive 8.5 GW, with the newly installed PV capacity reaching 479 MW. With its political spirit, the developed energy industry, and thriving economy, France is steadily growing as a generator of this form of environmentally-friendly energy.
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10. South Korea
South Korea plans to add 30 GW of PV by 2030, to improve the country’s relatively poor renewable energy performance up until now, with 9% of that capacity to be developed in Saemangeum and 14GW of solar power energy to be installed before 2020.