The World’s Top 10 Solar Countries

In 2012 solar power produced just 0.5% of global electricity. It’s only a speck compared to coal (42%), natural gas (21%), hydro (15%) and nuclear (12%).

But solar is a startup. And market share is the wrong way to judge a startup. The fact that the iPhone had no market share in 2007 is cold comfort to Nokia shareholders today.

Now I’m not sure as to how big solar is going to be, but the last five years have made me a lot more optimistic than I used to be.

Just look at it go!

That is the type of growth you’d like to see in a promising startup.  It is still early days, but solar could really make a dent.

Stacked column charts aren’t the easiest on the eye for comparing the countries.  So I’ve broken out the country level data below.

This next chart looks a little empty to begin with (in 2003), but click slider at the top to see who has been winning the solar race each year over the last decade.  Don’t ruin it by jumping straight to 2012, it is much more fun if you go year by year and watch it start to kick off.

Here comes the sun!


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  • Professor Ray Wills

    Australia to November 2013 now at 1.15 million homes and 3 GW of solar, total generation for 2013 likely to be 4 TWh

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Yep, I get the feeling that even the 2012 numbers from BP might be conservative. The US figures also look very low to me. Might go looking for some newer data

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  • Nils Peterson

    Took me awhile to see that I could just hover my mouse under the timeline to move to different years. Interesting to note that in 2003 USA led GER and has since completely lost ground to Europe.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      Well, US electricity costs less than half of German power, plus the greens are strong in German politics. I actually think the US data for 2012 is very conservative here (from BP). Should be revised up next year. A lot has been installed in the last 18 months in the US

  • newbould

    I guess there are no figures for solar water heating which I think should come way before PV installation. And in temperate zones solar space heating is also more important. I would like to see some solar central heating systems based on solar hot water technology. All ahead of pV. Then “in house” solar PV used say for powering your deep freeze where intermittency is not a problem. Finally grid connection.

    • Lindsay Wilson

      The wiki figures for solar thermal are worth a look. Essentially there is more than 200 GW(th) of solar water heating installed globally, over half in China. That is double the PV capacity, although electricity has higher value. Nonetheless it is greatly under-appreciated everywhere but China

    • Professor Ray Wills

      In Aus, data is current as at 1 January 2014.

      Small generation unit (SGU) installations
      Installation quantityRated output (kW)Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels——————– 1,161,245—- 3,096,067
      Total SGU installations –1,161,637—-3,097,440

      Solar water heater (SWH) installations
      Installation quantity
      Air source heat pumps—173,101
      Solar water heaters——-669,281
      Total SWH installations—842,382

      All small-scale installations – as at 1 January 2014, there are a total of 2,004,019 small-scale installations in Australia.

      • Lindsay Wilson

        This is one of the joys of solar. Both the Chinese and US data above are suddenly looking very old just a year down the line. Australia too. The SWH data is impressive

      • newbould

        Thanks Ray, that looks encouraging. Good to see so many Australians interested in this. I wonder what the incentive is – $ or Carbon. The sooner we start to think in terms of carbon cost the better – ie can I afford the carbon to drive down to the beach, or should I take my bike? (typical Aussie senario!). Then we just need to stretch that thinking into voting. Heh, we have a year or so to do this thing.

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  • smokiieee

    In Czech (by our biggest company – half state owned – CEZ – electricity producer – being called “CEZrepublic”) sadly close to zero growth expected (no feed-in tarifs for new instalations, nor at least stable environment..) now..
    Politicians managed to – make huge profits on heavily oversubsidised (solar) utilities + destroy whole sector` reputation so this lack of support is usually not being seen as bad by public..
    + heavy push for more nuclear..(which our poor citizens probably think will save them money – how funny, isnt it..)

    When you google here eg “temelín” you`ll find some lets say 18of 20 articles pro/nuclear, while when you search “solar” you find mostly things as tunnel, dirty business, biggest ripoff, etc etc..
    Heavy thx to Germans as their successes are makin it harder for our fckin centralist corrupted puppets..

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  • Verghese Kurien

    India is densely populated and has high solar insolation, an ideal combination for using solar power in India. In the solar energy sector, some large projects have been proposed, and a 35,000 km2 area of the Thar Desert has been set aside for solar power projects, sufficient to generate 700 GW to 2,100 GW.

    The Charanka Solar Park, at 214 MW the largest in the world, was commissioned on April 19, 2012, along with a total of 605 MW in Gujarat, representing 2/3 of India’s installed photovoltaics. Large solar parks have also been announced in the state of Rajasthan. The 40 MW Dhirubhai Ambani Solar Park was commissioned on March 31, 2012.

    Current total grid connected solar capacity in India stood at 2,632 MW as on March 31, 2014.

    By: Verghese Kurien

    Digital Marketing Specialist