Which Nation Has the Most Solar Power?

Information verified correct on October 26th, 2016

Do you know how leading countries rank against each other when it comes to solar power?

While more and more countries and making efforts to create green energy using solar power, some are obviously doing a better job than others and here’s a list of the top 10 solar powered nations in the world.

Solar farms in Australia:
  • 10 MWp solar station at Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton, Western Australia
  • 9.3 MWth concentrating solar thermal plant at the Liddell power station in Hunter Valley, New South Wales
  • 220 kWp array on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands in South Australia
  • 200 kWp array at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Victoria
  • 160 kWp array at Kogarah Town Square in Sydney, New South Wales.

If you’re wondering how this compares to solar power that some of the leading countries produce, the fact that Australia does not feature in the top five might come as a surprise. Below, you’ll find out which country leads the table and the ones that follow.

Top 10 countries going solar


1. Germany

Germany clearly leads the way when it comes to production of solar photovoltaic power. Its capacity to produce solar power stood at 32.4 GW at the end of 2012 and it has added newer PV systems since. By 2030, it aims to get to a total capacity of 66 GW, growing at the rate of about of 2.5 GW to 3.5 GW per year.

While the country generated around 23 TWh (terawatt hours) of electricity in 2012, it accounted for no more than 3% of the nation’s electricity requirements. By 2050, analysts opine that Germany should be able to produce around 25% of its required electricity through solar power.

Germany is not a particularly large country, but the combination of financing opportunities, a dependable feed-in tariff system and the easy availability of skilled OPV companies has worked particularly well in getting Germans to utilise solar power.


2. China

China stood at the eighth spot in 2010, with a capacity of 0.305 GW, and it now sits at the number two spot, with a total capacity of 18.3 GW. Since 2009 there has been a whopping 6,000% increase in China’s solar capacity, which should do something to negate the carbon footprint the most populated country in the world creates.

What helps China’s cause is that the country is a major manufactures of solar panels. The Chinese government has continually raised its targets for renewable energy, from planning to get to 20 GW by 2020, to revising the plan and now planning to get 70 GW through solar power by 2017.


3. Italy

Italy moved from the fifth spot in 2010 with a capacity of 1.2 GW, to number three with 17.6 GW. Italy, incidentally, is number one when it comes to fulfilling energy requirements through solar power, with solar power contributing to 7.8% of its total electricity consumption. With suitable net metering and feed-in tariff systems in place, the use of solar power in Italy is only set to grow.


4. Japan

Japan moved down the list from number three to number four, although its capacity increased from 2.6 GW to 13.6 GW. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster the Japanese government has started approaching solar power with renewed vigour, and it has set targets for 28 GW and 53 GW for 2020 and 2030, respectively.


5. United States of America

The US moved down one spot, from fourth to fifth, increasing its capacity from 1.6 GW to 12GW. The country’s capacity should grow significantly in few years, given that a number of large ground-mounted solar projects are underway. Growth in the industry is also coming about after the government lifted the federal solar tax credit cap in 2009.


6. Spain

Spain dropped from the second place, with a capacity of 3.4 GW, to the sixth place, with a capacity of 5.6 GW. At one point, when the Spanish government focused on creating a solar energy, the country actually led the solar energy way, but much has changed since that time in 2008. Delays and complexities surrounding the government’s subsidy program along with a decrease in demand for energy can be the reasons behind the country’s changing solar power fortunes, but the country intends to revive its solar power plans again.


7. France

France moved up the ladder from ninth place to seventh place, increasing its capacity from 0.272 GW to 4.6 GW. The country continues to benefit from its feed-in tariff systems for building-integrated photovoltaics.


8. Australia

Australia is a new entrant in this list, increasing its production from .0125 GW in 2010 to 3.3 GW.  A federal mandatory renewable energy target, rebates and fee-in tariff systems have contributed to the growth solar power in this country. The existing government’s plan to scale back the federal Renewable Energy Target, though, might have a negative impact on the growth of solar power in Australia.


9. Belgium

Belgium, with a capacity of 0.363 GW, held the seventh spot in 2010, and has moved down to ninth with a total capacity of 3 GW. The country’s Green Certificates scheme works quite like a feed-in tariff system, and the government also has special tax rebates in place.


10. United Kingdom

Another new addition to the list, UK’s capacity increased from 0.027 GW in 2010 to 2.9 GW. In 2013, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association noted that UK almost doubled it capacity, and it installed more new systems than Italy, currently third on this list.

Countries that dropped from the previous list of top 10 solar power producing nations include India and the Czech Republic. Many nations are making efforts on different levels when it comes to integrating solar power into the mainstream, and it is only natural to expect this list to change with the passing of time.

Shirley Liu

Shirley is finder.com.au's publisher for banking and investments. She is currently studying a Masters in Commerce (Finance) and is the author of hundreds of articles. She is passionate about helping Aussies make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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