In this article, we will take a look at 15 countries that produce the most solar energy. If you want to see more countries that produce the most solar energy, go directly to 5 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy.
Thanks to improvements in technology and increased economies of scale, solar energy costs have decreased substantially. While the cost of utility scale PV fixed tilt was $4.75 per watt in 2010, the cost was just $0.94 per watt in 2020.
For the future, it is likely solar costs will decline further.
With solar already being cheaper than coal and some other fossil fuels in many parts of the country, solar could potentially gain even more economies of scale. With improvements in technology, solar panels could be more efficient and the cost per watt could decline further. With improvements in battery technology, battery costs could decline and solar systems could be more useful to many people.
In addition, many governments have policies to actively support solar growth. The U.S. Department of Energy, for instance, announced in 2021 nearly $128 million in additional funding to lower solar costs and to improve the speed of deployment of solar energy technologies. Other countries such as China also have considerable subsidies. According to Reuters in 2021, China's 2022 renewable power subsidy was $607.26 million with the majority of the subsidy going to solar power stations.
There's demand from corporate America too as many of the world's leading companies are helping support solar growth to help offset their carbon emissions.
As a result of solar's increasing economic competitiveness, supportive government policies, and support from leading companies, solar energy is already America's fastest growing power source and solar accounts for over 40% of all new electricity generating capacity in the world's largest economy. The growth is likely far from over as analysts estimate total U.S. solar capacity will increase by a factor of 4 over the next decade. It is likely that many other countries will increase their solar capacity substantially over the next 10 years as well.
In terms of cost goals, the U.S. Department of Energy said in March 2021, "To that end, DOE is accelerating its utility-scale solar 2030 cost target by five years – setting a new goal of driving down the current cost of 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 3 cents/kWh by 2025 and 2 cents/kWh by 2030."
In addition to helping diversify the world's energy mix, growth in solar energy production will help fight global warming.
Senator Edward J. Markey said following the March 2021 U.S. Department of Energy announcement, "To meet our bold zero emissions goals by 2035, we need to unleash major investment in solar energy and technologies. I am excited to see the Biden-Harris Administration and the Department of Energy grant the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this research and development funding today to help the Commonwealth scale up our clean energy deployment and innovation."
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson added during the same announcement, “As Chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, it is thrilling to see my constituents selected to advance technologies that will play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. Not only will these awards help the United States achieve the deep decarbonization needed to mitigate the growing impacts of climate change, but they will put many Americans in my district and around the country back to work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."
Given the rise in global temperatures, over 70 countries including China, the United States, and the European Union have set a net zero target sometime in the next four decades. Net zero means "cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance" according to the United Nations.
Given the green energy needed to transition to net zero, many analysts think solar energy demand is likely to rise substantially in the future as a result.
For our list of 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy, we took the 15 largest countries by solar capacity according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2022.
We then ranked each country by their installed photovoltaic (PV) power statistic for the 2021 year.
For those of you interested, also check out 20 Countries That Produce the Most Electric Power.
15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 8.06 GW
Ukraine ranks #15 on our list of 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy with installed photovoltaic power of 8.06 GW in 2021 which is around 1% of the world's total solar capacity. Given government policies, Ukraine's solar energy capacity has increased by an average growth rate per annum of 45.6% from 2011 to 2021. With the war in the nation this year, solar growth in the country may not be as strong in the near term.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 13.05 GW
Brazil has increased its solar capacity from 0.1 GW in 2016 to 13.1 GW in 2021 as the cost of solar has become more competitive in many areas of the country versus traditional energy sources. According to some estimates, Brazil surpassed 15 GW of total installed solar as of April 2022 and the country could have as much as 54 GW of total solar capacity by 2026.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 13.65 GW
Spain is one of the leading European solar generators given its installed photovoltaic power of 13.65 GW in 2021. Given its latitude, the country gets more hours of sun than many other European nations and as a result, Spain has substantial potential for future solar capacity growth. According to PV Magazine in September, Spain could already have surpassed the 20 GW of solar level this year given new capacity additions.
12. United Kingdom
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 13.69 GW
The United Kingdom ranks #12 on our list of 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy given its installed photovoltaic power of 13.69 GW as of last year. Considering the increasing competitiveness of solar energy, the country's solar capacity has increased by an average growth rate per annum of 29.9% from 2011 to 2021. There could be more growth in the future as the UK government said in April of this year, “We will also look to increase the UK’s current 14 GW of solar capacity which could grow up to five times by 2035, consulting on the rules for solar projects, particularly on domestic and commercial rooftops.”
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 14.25 GW
The Netherlands is one of Europe's largest solar energy producers with installed photovoltaic power of 14.25 GW in 2021. According to PV Magazine, solar accounted for 25.5% of the Netherlands' August total electricity demand thanks to more sun and lower electricity demand. Given the decreasing cost of solar energy, it is likely that solar will account for an even larger percentage of the country's total electricity generation in the future.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 14.71 GW
Although it gets most of its electricity generation needs from nuclear, France is nevertheless a leader in solar with installed photovoltaic power of 14.71 GW last year. In the future, France has a goal of increasing the amount of solar energy produced in the nation by 10 fold to reduce its carbon emissions further. Interestingly, the French Senate mandated this year that large parking lots in the nation be covered with solar panels in the future.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 16.66 GW
Vietnam is a leader in solar capacity given its growing economy and its geography. With its developing economy, electricity demand has increased substantially and solar has been one of the best choices for the country in many areas given its costs. Solar costs are lower than some other countries given Vietnam gets more sun than many other countries do. As of 2021, Vietnam had installed photovoltaic power of 16.66 GW.
8. South Korea
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 18.16 GW
South Korea is a leading solar energy producer with installed photovoltaic power of 18.16 GW in 2021. Over the past decade, the country's solar capacity increased substantially thanks to supportive government policies and decreasing costs. From 2011 to 2021, South Korea solar capacity increased by an average annual growth rate of 37.9% per annum thanks to subsidies and the decreasing cost per watt of solar. In the future, the country's solar energy capacity is likely to increase further given South Korea's goal of reducing its carbon emissions.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 19.07 GW
In 2021, Australia had an installed photovoltaic power of 19.07 GW in 2021, up 10.3% year over year. Considering Australia's government has a goal of renewables accounting for 82% of the national electricity market by 2030, the country's solar capacity will likely increase in the future. Given its solar capacity, Australia ranks #7 on our list of 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy.
Installed photovoltaic (PV) power: 22.69 GW
Italy ranks #6 on our list of 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy given its installed photovoltaic power of 22.69 GW. Given its geography, Italy gets more sunlight than many other European nations do and the country's government has also been supportive of solar capacity growth with subsidies and a goal of attaining 50 GW of solar capacity by 2030.
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Disclosure: None. 15 Countries That Produce the Most Solar Energy is originally published on Insider Monkey.