Solar Energy Statistics

The statistical data reviewed here will only consider installed solar capacity or the maximum electric output a solar plant is able to produce under specific conditions. This is different from generation which specifies the amount of energy a solar PV or CSP can generate within a given time frame. For example, a 1GW solar system that operates consistently for one hour will produce 1GW/h (gigawatt hour) of electricity. If it operates at half of that capacity for an hour it will generate 0.5GWh of electricity. Consumption, on the other hand, is simply the amount of energy used by a region or a country. Just keep in mind these differences.

In 2019 more than 580 thousand MW of solar energy was installed globally using direct PV technology -IRENA. Given the fact that this technology is the most widely used, the data shown here is only from PV solar power capacity.

When it comes to installed solar PV capacity, the five countries leading in this field in 2018 were

  1. China with 175.03 GW
  2. Japan with 55.50 GW
  3. United States with 51.45 GW
  4. Germany with 45.93 GW
  5. Italy with 20.13 GW

During the year 2019, the countries with most new capacity were

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Japan
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Viet Nam
  6. United States
  7. Australia
  8. Spain
  9. Ukraine
  10. Germany

It is important to recall that less than a decade ago, the United States ranked first with an installed capacity of 7.33GW followed by China 6.73GW. It was in the year 2012 that everything changed. China blasted off with solar PV manufacturing and by 2013, had reached an installed capacity almost threefold with 17.76GW. And, since that year, China has been the top country surpassing the United States by more than two-fold. So, in just 25 years China has gone from having no solar panels to 100% more than any other country.