Top 10 Countries With Highest Installed Solar Capacity

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Solar power is an increasingly important form of renewable energy, with many countries setting targets to achieve a certain amount of solar generation in the coming years.

At the end of 2017, the total installed solar capacity around the world hit 402.5 gigawatts (GW) with the top 10 countries contributing 344.5 GW of that figure. Find out the 10 countries that have the highest installed solar capacity.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Installed Solar Capacity (2017 Data)

A total of 29 countries around the world had at least 1 GW of PV capacity at the end of 2017, here are the 10 countries with the highest capacity:

Position Country Solar Capacity 2016 Position
1 China 131 GW 1st
2 USA 51 GW 4th
3 Japan 49 GW 2nd
4 Germany 42 GW 3rd
5 Italy 19.7 GW 5th
6 India 18 GW 7th
7 UK 13 GW 6th
8 France 8 GW 8th
9 Australia 7.2 GW 9th
10 Spain 5.6 GW 10th

Source: International Energy Association (IEA)

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China – 1st
It’s no surprise to see China at the top of the list, a country that’s installing enough solar panels to cover a football pitch every day, as they aim to be generating 70% of their energy by 2050.

USA – 2nd
Solar PV panels as we know them today were invented in the USA in the 1950s but that head-start isn’t enough for the USA to sit at the top of the table. California is the leading US state for solar capacity, contributing 23 GW of installed solar.

Japan – 3rd
Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2005, 50 nuclear power plants across Japan have been left untouched. The disaster has seen the country turn to renewable energy, but with the country being mountainous and densely populated there isn’t much room for solar panels.

This inspired offshore solar plants, with the Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant generating enough electricity for around 22,000 homes.

Germany – 4th
The leading generator of solar power in Europe, and formerly the world, Germany is actually among the countries that receive the lowest hours of sunshine.

There’s a big gap between the top 4 and the rest of the top 10 as we go from Germany having a capacity of 42 GW down to the 19.7 GW of Italy.

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Italy – 5th

In Europe, Italy sits second only to Germany in terms of solar capacity and total electricity generated by solar power (Italy – 7.3%, Germany – 7.5%) in 2017.

India – 6th

India is one of the fastest growing countries for solar generation in the world and looks set to comfortably meet its target of 100 GW by 2022.

India has also become home to the largest solar power park in the world. Located in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, 2,500 acres of land is covered by 2.5 million solar panels which is generating enough energy to power the lives of 750,000 people.

UK – 7th

The UK has dropped a place in the top 10 from 2016 and with the Feed-in Tariff now closed to new applications as of March 31st 2019, installing the renewable technology could become less appealing to homeowners.

France – 8th

France is another country looking to increase the amount of energy generated by solar, looking to increase its installed capacity to 10.2 GW by the end of 2018.

They’re looking to innovative ways they can generate more solar energy and opened the world’s first solar panel road in 2016. Named ‘Wattway’, the 1 km stretch of road in Normandy is covered by 2,800 square metres of solar panels, with the energy being used to power street lights in the village of Tourouvre-au-Perche.

Australia – 9th

Australia could soon be climbing up the top 10 as they look set to potentially double their current solar capacity in 2018. The country has approved the construction of large solar farms and is seeing record numbers of rooftop installations.

However, the rapid increase in solar panel installations means that the Australian national grid is being sent too much energy. This is called ‘solar spill’ and happens during days when demand for power is low but generation is high and could end up causing blackouts. Ultimately, this could see a restriction on the number of solar panels installations across Australia unless more solar batteries are installed.

Spain – 10th
A few years ago, Spain sat at the top of this list but the introduction of a 7% ‘sun tax’ on homes with solar panels in 2012 has seen other countries not only catch-up but leave them behind. This tax was imposed on homes that have 3 solar panels, payments of around 70 Euros a month had to be made so that they could stay connected to the electricity grid, even if they only used energy generated by their solar panels.

The good news for Spain is that the new government (elected in 2018) is set to suspend the tax, which should encourage more homeowners to install solar panels in one of the sunniest countries in the world.

China has really asserted its dominance in the solar market, with more than double installed capacity of its closest rival, the USA.

Total Solar Installed During 2017 – Top 10 Countries

During 2017, 98 GW of solar PV has been installed around the world, with China, almost unbelievably, being responsible for more than half of that total.

Position Country Solar Installed
1 China 53 GW
2 USA 10.6 GW
3 India 9.1 GW
4 Japan 7 GW
5 Turkey 2.6 GW
6 Germany 1.8 GW
7 Australia 1.25 GW
8 South Korea 1.2 GW
9 UK 0.9 GW
10 Brazil 0.9 GW

Source: International Energy Association (IEA)

South America isn’t represented in the Top 10 Countries for Installed Solar Capacity, however, Brazil installed enough solar PV during 2017 (0.9 GW) to feature this time around. Brazil has now passed an installed capacity of 1 GW, the second South American country to do so, after Chile.

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