Clean Power solar power by country GDP new solar

Published on June 26th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Top Solar Power Countries Per Capita & Per GDP (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

June 26th, 2013 by  

–> Update: Also see the new top solar power countries vs top US solar states rankings.

Following up on my top solar power state rankings, below are rankings of the top solar power countries per capita and per GDP. These solar power by country rankings are key to seeing who the solar power leaders are in relative terms. It’s great that giant countries like the US and China are investing in solar, but how do their investments really compare when we compare to country populations and GDP? That’s the important question — that is, if we want to identify who is really leading the world with aggressive solar power policies and incentives.

Before jumping in to the country rankings, as I included in my articles yesterday, here are a handful of related rankings I’ve created:

For all solar power rankings below, solar power capacity data come from EPIA’s 2012 Photovoltaic Barometer report. The population numbers come from Internet World Stats (IWS) and the GDP numbers come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On to the solar power country rankings….

Total Solar Power By Country Per Capita

solar by country ranking per capita total solar

Click to embiggen.
Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

solar power by country population total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

New Solar Power By Country Per Capita

solar power by country population new solar

Click to embiggen.
Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

solar power by country population new

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Total Solar Power By Country Per GDP

solar power by country ranking GDP total solar

Click to embiggen.
Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

solar power by country GDP total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

New Solar Power By Country Per GDP

solar power by country GDP new solar chart

Click to embiggen.
Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

solar power by country GDP new solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Initial Thoughts

1. Germany is still the clear solar power leader per capita (total solar power capacity).

2. Italy, Belgium, and the Czech Republic are still clearly #2, #3, and #4 in that category.

3. Solar power country leaders per capita are almost entirely European countries. The only others in the top 20 are Australia (#8), Japan (#14), Israel (#17), US (#20).

4. Per GDP, however, Germany falls to #3, as Bulgaria and the Czech Republic take #1 and #2, respectively. Australia and the US, of course, fall further down the list.

5. Bulgaria was the solar superstar of the year. Crushing all other countries in new solar power capacity per GDP and per capita, Bulgaria was a notable solar leader that you really don’t hear much about.

6. Germany, Greece, and Denmark also had very strong showings in new solar power capacity per capita, and additional European countries such as Slovenia, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and perhaps Switzerland had strong results in this arena (relative to other countries). The US came in at #14 in this category.

7. Per GDP, aside from Bulgaria running away with the title like Usain Bolt vs a college athlete, Greece, Slovenia, Germany, and Italy had relatively good results. Belgium, Denmark, and Ukraine were in the next grouping with mediocre to good results. After that, the trail-off is pretty clear. The US came in at #23 in this category.

Those are my main thoughts. Clearly, the solar policies of numerous European countries have made them solar leaders in more ways than one. Some other countries have had mediocre policies and results, nothing spectacular. Your thoughts?

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • EnergyEf

    Zachary, do you have any post that compares countries by what percentage of their power or energy needs are met by solar and other renewables? In a country like Pakistan where we have ample sun, but our electricity demand exceeds supply by 30%, solar can be our redeemer. But we need to cite other countries examples to convince those in power.

    I am running a small website that allows Pakistani consumers to compare appliances by power consumption, so they can make better energy choices.

  • Solar Brokers Canada

    Some countries are doing great and some are picking up. Atleast the vision to focus on solar and renewable energy is strong and can change the pace.

  • TomC

    The province of Ontario in Canada (13.5M people, with 3x the land mass of Germany) projects having almost 3000MW installed by 2015. This is due to our generous FIT/MicroFIT program. That would put our province #5 in the list, though since we’re only about a third of the country’s people, we’ll likely remain low on the list. It would be very interesting to subdivide into more granular regions – like provinces/states. I’m sure there are some areas within Germany or elsewhere that are more concentrated than their country’s per-capita stats indicate..

  • Richard

    It would be good to see these graphs up-dated with 2013 figures and compared side by side with 2012 & possibly even 2011 figures so as to show growth trends. Most countries have also got projected growth patterns for approved projects for the next 2 years at least, so it would be good to see who is ramping up vs. who is acting as a ‘1 Hit Wonder’ or even declining growth patterns.

  • Radek

    Hi Zachary,

    numbers of installed capacity are interesting, but more important is
    the composition of the owners and made use of photovoltaic energy. For
    example, the Czech Republic holds a good position although the
    ownership structure is quite different from neighboring Germany. It
    is important to indicate how many are installed in small installations
    in the population, how many installations use a service business and how
    many installations are already a large power plants owned electricity
    companies or foreign investors. Comparison
    of Czech Republic with Germany shows, for while in Germany was long
    count exceeded a million solar roofs, Czech Republic is far behind even
    by installing a proportion of the population of the population. So
    Germany 80 million inhabitants and more than one million small
    installations, Czech Republic 10 million inhabitants and only 25,000
    small instal. Of
    the total output of over 2 GW just under 5 percent is held by
    individuals and small business owners who consume the energy produced at
    the site to your advantage and savings. If photovoltaics bring real change has to be maintained a certain ratio between residents, comerce and utilities. At
    a ratio of 5:95, most of the population only applies to large investors
    for renewable energy through feed-in tarifs that increase the price of

  • good list, after all the buzz i didnt knew india was so behind

    • Calamity_Jean

      Clearly India is determined to catch up.

      I’m impressed by how well Greece is doing, considering their rather well-publicized financial troubles.

  • MsBowes

    I am ashamed of New Zealand,how can we say we are a clean,green country who cares about our environment anymore 🙁

    • Rockne O’Bannon

      What? You get so much hydro, have no nuclear. I think “ashamed” is totally uncalled for. What you would find is that, with the NZ population, even a modest solar program would push you to the top of the charts in no time. NZ is also not really an industrial powerhouse, so wind, solar and hydro are probably all you will need for the foreseeable future. Throw in some geothermal for the grandkids.

      • MsBowes

        Some good points there Rockne,but NZ is having issues over its power industry with alot of our energy providers having 49% shares sold off and power prices are a big issue over here with regulation being proposed by our current opposition party,No Nuclear plants is great but we have alot of people against and complaining about proposed wind farms so that has been really slow going as for solar it seems more up to individuals over alot of us do want to set ourselves up self-sustaining power for our properties.I agree with you completely about wind,solar and hydro and future generations would be well looked after but at the moment our hydro is mainly it.

        • Rockne O’Bannon

          I am guessing that the 49%ers are not Chinese, but they might as well be, right? That is too bad.
          Well, I knew about NZ’s situation with hydro, and it just always seemed to me that something would come along to augment that.

          You might not realize it, but Japan is in almost the same boat as NZ, but with a huge population and GNP to deal with. Geothermal SHOULD BE a no brainer in Japan and NZ, but development lags badly. Same with wind, oddly enough.

          I have had to watch Japan struggle. Japan is coming up fast in solar and in conservation and transportation, but it just has so far to go since the Fukushima accident. Because of the concentrated population, Japan is likely to turn back to nuclear or to LNG.

          In contrast, I would think that NZ would be able to do more with distributed generation. And after all is said and done, NZ seems to be meeting its demand without the crisis mentality that prevails in Japan. That is a plus.

          Anyway, your “ashamed” comment just struck me. Japan and NZ are doing the best they can with what they have, it seems to me. Countries that are squandering vast resources. Those that are not making an effort. They are the ones that should feel ashamed.

  • moxooba

    Recently I was REALLY low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – cvl5

  • Denise

    Your article was most informative and realistic I have been searching the web forever, obviously looking in the wrong places. I desperately needed to confirm Americas ranking as it relates to solar technology generally, and you most defiantly answered my questions. Appreciative of your insight and see that you have spent dedicated amount of time in pitting this material together will look here first for renewable energy related articles as I am constantly searching for explanations and answers. What is needed though to increase solar technology in America? Is electricity too low and solar installation too high What about incentives like tax credits & rebates, making these more attractive could be an option to driving cost down.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Prices seem to be coming down quite rapidly in the US. Our subsidy system was not as good about getting the industry fired up as the systems that Germany and Spain used. They brought the costs of panels and hardware down because they created a larger market and that created competition.

      It looks like our large scale solar prices are doing OK. We’re seeing contracts being written between owners of large solar arrays and utility companies that could only be written if installed solar prices were pretty good.

      What we need to work on in most of the country is getting the “soft costs” – permitting and inspection fees down. In many states a large part of the cost goes into paperwork. A couple of states are experimenting with low cost permitting, more need to figure out how to reduce these costs.

      Our average cost for rooftop solar is about twice that of Germany and Australia ($3.81/watt vs $2/watt). We can buy the hardware for the same price that they do. Our labor costs are similar. The effort now needs to be in cutting non-system costs.

  • ivanassen

    Bulgaria is not a happy story – it’s the mafia investing in solar (and wind) thanks to heavy subsidies by the government which guarantees to buy back anything at an outrageous price. Some solar plants have reported power generation numbers corresponding to 23 hours/day in some months…

    • Nebehslav

      False. The statements about 23 hours/day reports were false and were officially denied. Also a lot of the plants were built by the businesses which have nothing to do with the mafia and suffer a lot from the mentioned false opinion, repeated many times in the media by incompetent journalists and by government speakers.

      True. Some plants are built with money and “government” support which is closely related with the so called “mafia”.

      Anyway – the idea of building green energy and energy independence is good and is the future. For sorry, the fruits from this will come after years, especially for Bulgaria.

      • Rockne O’Bannon

        I would add that an unfortunate part of business in E. Europe is that “the mafia” kind of morphs into legitimate businesses. In fact, it is that way historically around the world if you look hard enough. I am not surprised that sketchy elements are doing legitimate businesses at all. We all know that “legitimate” businesses are doing things that make the mafia look like choir boys these days.

  • Van Otto

    Australia putting you guy to shame. lift up the cost of electricity then you will come on top.

    • Yeah, that’s one of the key items…

    • Rockne O’Bannon

      Good point. I have a couple. First is that Australia is a big sunny country with few people. Kind of explains a lot of the result there. And I guess “you guys” is the US? Well, yeah. The US has low energy prices. No carbon taxes, or certainly no carbon tax policy. So solar looks “expensive” to Americans even today.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    Good work!

  • Henry

    Please do the same thing for Wind Power

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