Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power

posted by Dave Llorens on July 27th, 2010

Spain Solar Panels

Ten Countries with the Most Installed Solar Energy (in MW*)

We hear a lot about how Germany and Spain have increased solar energy greatly in recent years with supportive government policies. We also hear a lot about China’s big clean energy push. And, despite trouble getting the US federal government to do much for solar energy, we know that the US is still continuously moving forward on this front. But have you ever wondered which countries in the world have the most installed solar energy?

Below are the top ten countries in the world according to installed photovoltaic (PV) solar energy capacity. Think you know the order? You might be surprised…see if you can name all ten countries in the right order before continuing on.

1. Germany (9,785 MW) -

German Solar PanelsGermany is clearly the world leader. In 2009 alone, Germany installed 3,806 megawatts (MW) of PV solar energy capacity, which is more than Spain’s total capacity and almost eight times more than the U.S. installed last year. “The combination of a proven feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme, good financing opportunities, a large availability of skilled PV companies, and a good public awareness of the PV technology, largely contributed to this success,” European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) reports.

Germany is expected to remain the top purchaser of solar panels throughout 2010 and may add 5,000 MW of new solar power this year. The feed-in-tariff program will begin to cut incentives this year, and growth will eventually slow. Still, over the long term, Germany has a goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2050, so it is likely that Germany will remain a strong market for solar power.

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2. Spain (3,386 MW) -

spain-solar-panels

Spain was the world leader in newly installed PV solar energy (2,605 MW) in 2008 due to the government’s focus on creating a national solar energy industry, but its new installed capacity decreased tremendously (to just 69 MW) in 2009. The reasons for this drop are attributed to complexity and delays related to a new government subsidy program and a decrease in energy demand due to the economic crisis. With expectations that both of these will improve in 2010, and considering its excellent sun irradiation and PV potential, Spain is expected to bump up its solar energy capacity again this year.

Image Credit

3. Japan (2,633 MW) -

japan

Japan is third globally and also a country worth emulating. Government residential PV programs, net-metering, high national solar energy goals to reach 28 GW by 2020 and 53 GW by 2030, as well as the support of local authorities and the private sector make Japan a world leader in this field. Japan invested $9 billion in stimulus money in solar energy in 2009, and the prime minister also announced a plan to install solar power at 32,000 public schools.

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4. United States (1,650 MW) -

US-solar-power-installed

Supportive state-level policies are a major driver of growth in the US. With many large ground-mounted solar projects in the pipeline, installed capacity in the US is expected to grow significantly in coming years. Additionally, national legislation promoting solar energy (if it comes through) could move the US forward considerably. The cap on the federal solar tax credit was lifted in 2009, promoting growth in this industry. Despite the recent recession, the US market for residential solar panels doubled in 2009, and increased 37% from 2008.

Image Credit

5. Italy (1,167 MW) -

italy

Mixing net-metering and a well-segmented FiT (combined with a lot of sunshine), Italy has become a world leader in solar energy. In 2009, Italy experienced the second-largest solar energy growth in the world. Every two months, Italians install more solar power than California does in an entire year. (To put that in perspective, Italy is slightly smaller in land size than California, with a fairly similar population). “The future growth of the market will depend on the streamlining and harmonisation of administrative procedures, combined with an adapted decrease of the FIT in the third Conto Energia to cope with the expected price decrease,” the EPIA reports.

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6. Czech Republic (465 MW) -

czech-solar-power

A generous FiT and simple administrative procedures have put the Czech Republic on this list. Per capita, it installed more new solar power than any other country besides Germany in 2009. The market growth has probably boomed unsustainably (and a little unexpectedly), however, and if appropriate policies aren’t put in place to slow it, the nascent solar bubble is expected to bust in the coming years.

Image Credit

7. Belgium (363 MW) -

Solar-powered flowers in Belgium.

The image above shows Belgian solar flowers. Belgium was also a bit of a 2009 solar energy surprise. Belgium’s success was from “a well-designed Green Certificates scheme (which actually works as a Feed-in Tariff), combined with additional tax rebates and electricity self-consumption.” Belgium is not expected to do so well in 2010 “due to a foreseen tariff decrease.”

Image © Artist Alexandre Dang, www.alexandredang.com

8. China (305 MW) -

china-solar-power

China gets a lot of attention these days for its clean energy push, and for good reason. China is a major solar panel manufacturer but hasn’t installed a ton of PV itself yet. However, it now has 12 gigawatts (GW) of large projects in the pipeline and if those projects are implemented China is expected to jump closer to the top of the list. According to China’s national energy plan, it is expected to reach a total of 20 GW by 2020. Nonetheless, as with many things in China, the plans remain vague (to the rest of the world) for now.

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9. France (272 MW) -

france

France has a well-designed FiT for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), so BIPV dominates the market there. They’ve put protections in place to help avoid abuse of the system, and may revise the tariffs to accompany price speculations. One key issue of concern in France is that although many MW of solar energy have been installed, a lot of them have not been connected to the grid. In 2009, 285 MW of capacity was installed but only 185 MW connected to the grid. This is a major issue that needs to be resolved.

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10. India (120 MW) -

india

Similar to China, India has fast-increasing electricity demand and it has very high sun irradiation levels. It’s government has also been moving forward strongly on clean energy. It has a goal to reach 20 GW by 2020 as well. “Besides the National Solar Mission of 2009, the market expects much of the possible decision this year to define a longterm power purchase agreement that could definitively trigger PV deployment in India,” EPIA states. India could quickly rise higher on this list with proper government strategies.

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*Figures as of the end of 2009 via the European Photovoltaic Industry Association [PDF]

Have more to add or questions about this list? Comment below. Special thanks to Adele Peters for her contribution to this article. Sign up with 1BOG Home Solar for group discounts, or use our calculator to estimate the cost of solar panels for your home.

By Dave Llorens

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73 Responses to “Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power”

  1. Canada needs to get itself on that list. We should be incorporating solar and geothermal energy into all of our cities moving forward.

    • viaut says:

      le top 10 ne représente pas la réalité.
      il faudrait comparer la puissance installée par habitant pour avoir une idée réelle de la situation.

      the top 10 does not represent the reality.
      should compare the installed power per capita or per household to get a true picture of the situation.

      • If you go to the Wikipedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_by_country
        you will find an embedded spreadsheet that allows you to sort a much more comprehensive list by many parameters, including per capita. When I sorted it by installed capacity per capita, the U.S. ranked 21st world-wide, behind Israel, South Korea, Australia, Bulgaria, Malta, Slovenia, … etc. (Get the idea?)

        The U.S. has a major oil addiction and kicking it is going to take a long time!

  2. Leon says:

    Ahm, did you look up Israel?

  3. Lee Lee Moss says:

    would be interesting to see how this list pans out, taking per capita as well as size of country into consideration…

  4. Nicole Paterno says:

    If the Philippines did not make it to the top 10, I wonder where it is down the list (in case there is further that this).

  5. neurocyte says:

    In Germany, rebates started solar growth and it is continued by the grid buyback mandate Feed Law, which mandates that solar power users can sell their excess energy back to the utilities through the grid at very high prices. Germany has taken the secondary world solar leadership position, and is the world leader in solar thermal technology.

  6. Clayton says:

    Leon – I think Israel has mostly solar hot water vs solar photovoltaics (pv)? The list does change when you take into account other types of solar energy.

  7. Uncle B says:

    In Canada, latitude undoes Solar, but colder Air for half the year is denser and helps with Wind Turbines! Canada has a lot of under-exploited Hydro power, and still has huge natural gas reserves sold at very low prices to use up.

  8. Top 10 Countries Using Solar Power « Zachary Shahan says:

    [...] We hear a lot about how Germany and Spain have increased solar energy greatly in recent years with supportive government policies. We also hear a lot about China’s big clean energy push. And, despite trouble getting the US federal government to do much for solar energy, we know that the US is still continuously moving forward on this front. But have you ever wondered which countries in the world have the most installed solar energy? Below are the top ten countries in the world according to installed photovoltaic (PV) solarenergy capacity. Think you know the order? You might be surprised…see if you can name all ten countries in the right order before continuing on. Read More… [...]

  9. noituac says:

    India? Nice!!

  10. hip says:

    FAIL. Go nuclear. Its cheaper, cleaner, more efficent and less damaging to the environment.
    Solar cant make it without subsidies. Lets show people how much they really pay then ask them what they want.

  11. Clayton says:

    hip –

    It looks like Nuclear power has lost it’s cost advantage over solar power. Check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/business/global/27iht-renuke.html?_r=2&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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  13. Top Ten Countries Using Solar Power | Solar Energy for Iraq says:

    [...] Top Ten Countries Using Solar Power Posted on July 29, 2010 by akismet-573505a6d534740466964c8db03f7941 http://1bog.org/top-10-countries-using-solar-power/ [...]

  14. genie guardado says:

    I wonder what would take so that Third World countries could be part of this?

  15. Solar Energy Projects Spain says:

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    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  16. Solar Energy Projects Spain says:

    A dozen emerging markets will lead to sustainable growth for the Solar Industry……

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  17. sydney says:

    Good article, provides informaiton that is well worth considering. For the past 5 years I have followed the growth of the Solar Industry in my home state of California. Here in San Diego California I have seen the US Navy install solar panels on many of their facilities, cities like Chula Vista install them atop their schools and my neighbor have a set of panels placed on his roof, with great success. I have two solar heating panels (not PV) on the roof of my home and they have done a wonderful job in supplying me with hot water for over 26 years.
    The PV industry is evolving quickly, costs are dropping, the technology is working towards more efficient cells, and reliability of solid state converters continue to improve. It’s a moving target for a homeowner: Where do you step in and make a purchase? Within the next two to five years will your installation become a technological dinosaur, whose cell efficiencies begin to decay further impacting your return on investment (which isn’t linear). Remember when the TRS-80 home computer was sold? and quickly superceeded by a six year technology burst that placed it on the junk heap. How are maintenance and repair costs figured into the overall economics? Will the guy who installed your solar panels be around 5/10/15 years from now?
    All things that come into consideration. I actually envision the day when we don’t need solar panels, some guy will show up at the front door and tell me: “Bob, we have the spray rig on the truck and plan to coat your house with photovoltaic self drying liquid, after three days we will be back to install the converters and hook you up to the grid.” That’s when I’l break out my checkbook.

  18. Energy George says:

    Cyprus is the first from the bottom !!!!!

  19. Giorgio Berton says:

    Holding fifth position…go Italy go go!

  20. Damiano Zampieri says:

    USA sucks…

  21. Damiano Zampieri says:

    After the Republican Party’s rise in USA, Italy can successfully fight to reach the fourth place…go Italy go! (Stop Tea Party Stop!)

  22. Damiano Zampieri says:

    Secondo conto energia
    Impianti in esercizio: 102.726
    Potenza (kW): 1.599.210

  23. Michael Anthony Burghoffer says:

    visit http://www.picoturbine.com and we will be adding this great information to our Green Energy Education Curriculum that supports are many Green Energy Products

  24. Michele Calloway says:

    USA, we have to get with it! Gas should no longer be the way to go.

  25. Ashok Kr says:

    thanks God my India is in Top 10..:)

  26. Stephanie Ruiz Rivera says:

    fuck india

  27. bob says:

    i think this article is amazing.

  28. bob says:

    also the people should be reppin the south ya feel me brah? like forreal doe. we #1 out here!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Zeze Dzulkifeli says:

    even india are usin solar.. i wish malaysia also can be one of that country that using solar energy~

  30. Hr Khan says:

    inshallah Pakistan will b in top 5…

  31. Subhash Raturi says:

    india is less than other ?

  32. I must i always would have been a little leary of all the so-called hype happening around solar. After examining quite a lot of programs and buy options my spouce and i decide to make the leap. We finished up getting solar without the need of money down and now we immediatly started saving money the 1st month is was installed. I have to admit that this potential benefits to solar look like real and I am very happy that we made a decision to proceed with it.

  33. Michael Boladian says:

    like the idea

  34. Michael Boladian says:

    what r same more countries with solar powers

  35. Michael Boladian says:

    hey man

  36. Christian Seepaul says:

    hi every1 how are u i think everybody should die so we con get more fossil fuel so we wouldn’t have to waste time to install the solar panel

  37. Too Nepal says:

    it is necessary to Nepal…in this age..

  38. Vasuki Nag says:

    India should be massively investing in solar energy rather than in nuclear energy which is susceptible for major catastrophic failure due to earthquake, tsunami, accidents or terrorist acts. India, being a tropical country, gets much more solar radiation than the other countries in the list.

  39. Tony Lim says:

    Oh my god, i left my light on all day.

  40. Imelda Ortega Suzara says:

    As long as it works and the Sun’s energy is FREE, it’s probably worth buying a residential system, plus the government buys electricity feed in tariff from being a micro supplier!

  41. Khulgen Gold Nyamkhuu says:

    amazing, Mongolia needs to learn from this rather than resorting to the nuclear energy alternative, too sad that ordinary ppl like me cant influence the decision making

  42. Usman Butt says:

    Free Energy

  43. Usman Butt says:

    Good

  44. Omar Ð Said says:

    Where is Canada in the list? Suprisingly Quebec is among the province that doesnt give straight incentives or credits towards Renewable Energies REs.

  45. Aditya Kumar says:

    thanxxxxx it helped me a lot thanxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  46. Kenneth V. Princillo says:

    Thanks..!! :DD

  47. Tu Nguyen says:

    Let’s it come to Vietnam:)

  48. Roxy Dass says:

    kool thnks

  49. Nur Fatima says:

    very intresting

  50. James Sides says:

    I live in Germany and I can confirm that we have really much solar power installed. After the energy transition fromward nuclear power it will become even more.

  51. shristi nigam says:

    if today India is on 10th rank so we should try to make it on no’1 position

  52. Ashok Kumar says:

    India will be super power in solar field…powerful India is coming.

  53. Not only is solar energy much cheaper but it’s not as harmful to the environment

  54. Gerardo Aaron says:

    Hi there I would like to learn more about solar energy and mainly to understand how to take adventage of biulding a energy solar sistem to feed my home and low the electricity bill.

  55. Dhanraj Gore says:

    Thank god …I felt good when I saw India’s name in this list. I love my India :)

  56. I think this a race to 2020.

    UK in 2012 update will be in the top 10 I would be for sure with the government incentive that are in place.

    Come on britain!!

  57. Jacob A says:

    It’s interesting to see how fast the entire world is embracing solar power. I wonder who will be on top in 20 years? Thanks for the great article!

  58. Solar power farms are growing at a rapid rate in the UK. Farmers are renting their land out for massive profit from the investors.

    This is far more popular and accepted than wind turbines which are still getting bad press.

    If it keeps going like this then Britain will be one, if not the leader in producing solar energy.

  59. It is a really interesting list, and I know I am probably stating the obvious, but I can’t see China and India being ranked 8th and 10th respectively for very much longer. It will be interesting though, to see if they leapfrog everyone else by 2015, and end up ranking 1st & 2nd. I am surprised to see quite a few European countries in the top 10, and no representation from South America!

  60. Its sad to see Australia not in the top 10 :0( We have seen a massive increase in solar panel installation specially in the Melbourne area. Hopefully next year we will be listed.

  61. Anshika Sawaram says:

    Solar energy a benefit for life..I want Mauritius to join in and to step back on a coal fire plant project!

  62. [...] feel that their government is losing out by over-regulating construction and manufacturing. Germany and Italy have outpaced Israel in solar development, despite having fewer sunny days and less powerful [...]

  63. JindalSolar says:

    Hi,

    Great Post! Soon India will be in top for using solar power..

  64. [...] By Dave Llorens « Solar Power for San Jose, California Share with Friends var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true}; Prospects & Career .solar { color: #F30; } [...]

  65. greer says:

    good very good

  66. [...] Spain, and Japan are way ahead of the US when it comes to using solar power. One of the worst contributors to global suffering is air travel. Why are we not creating new ways [...]

  67. aman sharma says:

    india will rise

  68. Dan says:

    Great post!
    Just remember a clean solar panel is an efficent solar panel

  69. Out Of Ideas And In Debt, Spain Sets Sights On Taxing The Sun « Nicer Blog says:

    [...] ten years, the government has made significant advances in pressing solar energy and is one of the top countries in the world with respect to installed photovoltaic (PV) solar energy [...]

  70. [...] cough). But they still have time for renewable energy!  Finish reading the article here: http://1bog.org/blog/top-10-countries-using-solar-power/ Also, Canada makes a majority of its power through hydro power. Even Brazil is in the top [...]

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