In this article, we will be taking a look at the 25 countries with highest solar energy generation per capita. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 countries with highest solar energy generation per capita.
2022's energy crisis didn't just impact the non-renewable sector but spilled over to the renewable sector as well. While the global focus has been shifting towards renewable resources for several years now, especially in advanced economies which dominate the list of countries with highest solar energy generation per capita, the oil price shock renewed debate in greater investment in oil production capacity to control its price. Of course, this has a negative impact on renewable energy production since funds will have to be cut from one sector and provided to the other. The U.S., one of the countries with the largest oil reserves, has already significantly increased oil production, even as OPEC+ countries agreed to reduce their output, and is now producing more oil than even Saudi Arabia. In 2022, American oil production was 11.9 million barrels per day, and according to the Energy Information Administration, in November 2023, daily production peaked at a record 13.2 million barrels per day.
An aerial view of a solar power plant, the sun's rays illuminating the surrounding landscape.
At the same time, tailwinds and headwinds are battling each other in the renewable energy sector, with a particular focus on the countries with highest solar energy generation per capita, and in 2022, renewable energy growth in the U.S. slowed down as supply chain disruptions and increased costs impacted production. Other factors negatively impacting solar power generation and growth are uncertainties in trade policy, higher interest rates and record inflation, many of which will continue to create headwinds in 2023.
On the other hand, the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S. has created a pathway for strong growth for renewable energy considering the incentives present in the Act, not to mention higher demand. A negative in this aspect is the fact that higher demand could also create further bottlenecks in the immediate future, though this will likely be offset as the trend of increased clean energy component manufacturing continues to take place.
In 2022, some of the biggest renewable energy companies in Europe, along with those in the rest of the world, helped deploy 239 GW of new solar capacity, the most in any one year, as alternatives to oil have gained increased importance amid lower dependence in Russia. This meant an annual growth rate of over 45%, another fantastic achievement and one which bodes well for the solar generation sector and the companies involved in it. Currently, total installed solar generation capacity is around 1.2 TW, 25% higher than in 2021, and cross the milestone of 1 TW in 2022. Among all renewable energy, solar energy is easily the most dominant thanks to the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita, and almost two-thirds of all new renewable energy is solar.
Currently, one of the biggest renewable energy companies in the world is NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE), with a market cap greater than $100 billion. NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) also called out the potential of solar energy in the company's future energy production and improvement in supply chain which me called out earlier as a challenge, and mentioned in its Q3 2023 earnings call "So, first of all, with supply chain, things are really improved a lot. As Rebecca just mentioned, we have the two issues, right? CERC convention, which has been asked and answered, provided a lot of clarity around what can be done, what can't, and with the presidential proclamation. So, in very good shape there. Second was forced labor and making sure that our suppliers are working constructively with Customs and Border Patrol to get their panels cleared for importation into the country. And so, for the most part, all of our solar suppliers have been able to do that. And so, we are in very good shape there. I think on grid power, I actually -- the grid-level issues that you just mentioned, we're in very good shape on. We had gone long on grid-level equipment, including transformers. And so, we have a significant supply in our inventory. And we've also looked forward in a plan for this in terms of trying to make sure that we have equipment available where if our customers or the transmission owner in the places that we're building renewables are short on equipment, are short on grid-level equipment in particular, that we have it in our inventory and are able to offer that up as a solution."
Despite being one of the top companies in a fast growing industry and despite improvement in solar production in the countries with the highest solar generation per capita, NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) has seen its stock price fall by more than 30% in 2023, as interest rate pressures among other factors have impacted its future earnings outlook.
Madison Sustainable Equity Fund made the following comment about NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) in its Q3 2023 investor letter:
“Although NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) reported an in-line second quarter, the stock has been weak primarily because of rising interest rates. NextEra also reported slower renewables backlog growth than expected. We do not view this as an issue as we expect the development pipeline timeline may not be as predictable as investors would like. The environment for renewables remains favorable both from a demand perspective as well as cost perspective.”
While renewables energy companies have hit a rough patch recently, there can be no doubting the potential of the industry, and in H1 2023, global renewable energy investment stood at $358 billion, a growth of 22% from the previous year, with this increase coming mainly from growing venture capital financing. Of this $358 billion, $239 billion was allocated to the solar energy sector, with investments being high particularly in China, followed by the U.S., and you'll have to read on to figure out whether they feature among the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita. Unsurprisingly, China is the largest producer of solar energy in the world by a distance, with a total capacity of 430 GW, accounting for over 30% of total global capacity. In terms of total solar power by country in 2023, China is followed by the U.S. and then Japan.
To determine the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita, we obtained 2022 data for MW capacity for each country, and divided it by the country's population to obtain the overall picture. While Australia is the biggest consumer per capita of solar energy, read on to find out if it's also the biggest solar generation per capita.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 278.3
China is easily the biggest solar energy producer in the world, but much further down the list when considering it per capita. In recent talks, China reached an agreement with the U.S. to boost green energy in both countries.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 297.3
Poland is now expected to increase its solar capacity by 14.36 GW by the end of 2025.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 299.7
Hidroelektrarne na spodnji Savi, one of Slovenia's biggest renewable energy companies, recently opened the country's biggest solar plant which will be able to produce nearly 6.84 GWh of electricity in a year.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 301.3
In 2023, solar electricity generation accounted for nearly 12% of the country's total requirements, and is expected to increase from 1.3 GW in 2021 to 3 GW by the end of 2023.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 308.6
Uniper and Callis are partnering to develop a solar plant with a capacity of 280 MW, and this is just one example of Hungary's growing contribution to solar energy, even though a lot more needs to be resolved to achieve its full true potential.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 318.8
Chile has long been considered among the countries with the highest potential for solar energy generation, and a large solar plant built in the country's North is likely to be much more successful than a similar plant built in Spain because of better climate conditions.
19. United Arab Emirates
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 322.0
While the UAE's wealth was built on its vast oil reserves, the country has taken several steps in recent years to diversify its economy, and in November 2023, inaugurated a giant solar plant, one of the biggest in the world.
18. United States
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 339.1
The U.S. is the second-biggest overall solar power generator in the world, and Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world, has a renewable energy portfolio sufficient enough to power an amazing 6.7 million U.S. homes.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 370.8
Cyprus recently unveiled a 30 million euros "photovoltaics for all" grant in a bid to further boost it solar generation capacity.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 392.4
In 2022, Austria installed round 1.4 GW of new solar power capacity, cementing its place among the top solar energy generating countries globally.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 393.6
Despite Malta's improvements in solar energy generation, in 2021, its renewable energy generation share was just 12.2%, one of the lowest in Europe.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 397.8
Estonia's continuing to improve its ranking among the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita. If growth continues based on current forecasts, solar energy could even power half of the country's electricity needs in just three years.
13. South Korea
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 406.3
One of the biggest conglomerates in South Korea, Hyundai's subsidiary Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. formed a private-public partnership with Korea Midlands Power for U.S. solar power.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 421.8
In H1 2023, solar panels and wind turbined contributed around 67% of its total electricity generation, and on 11 June 2023, solar and wind power generated more than 100% of the required electricity, though the lack of accurate forecasting methodology in this respect is an important concern.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 426.2
While Italy has lofty ambitions for its wind and solar goals, grid delays are impacting growth in the country's renewable sector.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 430.9
Spain has long been considered among Europe's leaders in renewable energy adoption, which topped 50% of its total power generation in 2023.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 461.9
Israel has heavily focused on solar energy and now is easily among the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita. In 2023, Israel issued a tender for a fifth solar energy plant in its Negev desert which will become operational in 2027 and have an annual capacity of 100 MW.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 490.2
In June 2023, Luxembourg selected 75 solar projects in its first ever self-consumption procurement exercise, allocating 43.3 MW in the tender.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 516.9
A combination of sun and snow have contributed significantly to Switzerland being among the countries with the highest solar energy generation per capita, and it has continued to add walls of solar panels to its longest dam in a bid to focus more on its clean energy initiatives.
Solar energy generation per capita (in MW/ million): 525.9
Greece is luckier than most European countries in terms of having more sunny days, which it has put to good use, and recently surpassed 11 GW in renewable energy capacity.
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Disclosure: None. 25 countries with highest solar energy generation per capita is originally published at Insider Monkey.