Solar Capacity Per Capita Country Ranking 2014

The IEA has released a short report on solar capacity figures titled “2014 – Snapshot of Global PV Markets“.

Page 12 of the report shows this neat table ranking the top 10 solar countries:


That’s nice, since it shows Germany still at the top spot in cumulative capacity.

On the other hand, Germany will lose this top spot some time this year to China. While the profoundly stupid German policy is to decrease solar deployment speeds just as prices have come down, China is increasing speed as prices come down. Which is of course the obvious thing to do.

Energiewende Germany asked about the numbers per capita. I think that is an interesting question. So I went through the right side column of the top ten and divided by population (numbers from Wikipedia). I also added an estimate of the cost per person at the 2014 average price for solar panels of $ 0.50.

Here is the list I came up with:

1. Germany, 473 W, $236.50

2. Italy, 304 W, $157

3. Belgium, 275 W, $137.5

4. Japan, 184 W, $92

5. Australia, 172 W, $86

6. Spain, 123 W, $61.5

7. France, 85.6 W, $42.8

8. UK, 79.1 W, $39.6

9. US, 56.8 W, $28.4

10. China, 20.7 W, $10.4

Considering that global warming is an existential risk for humanity, those dollar figures are astoundingly low. Remember that these are figures for cumulative capacity, not yearly additions. They are so low that at first sight I suspect that I have somehow miscalculated by an order of magnitude or two. But the last step is a simple division by two. While I am (in contrast to my late father) not a math professor, even a humble lawyer like me should be able to do that much without making any big mistakes.

I also calculated the per capita values for the Czech Republic, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria from the numbers given for their cumulative installations at page 6 of the report. They are 199 W, 240 W, 60 W, and 135 W respectively. Greece at 240 W would make it to rank 4 and beat Japan in the list above, if it had made the top 10 of cumulative capacity in absolute numbers.

Update: Craig Morris points in comments to data relative to peak summer demand for Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United States.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

5 thoughts on “Solar Capacity Per Capita Country Ranking 2014

  1. KF, nice post, but my favorite metric is not per capita. Power consumption levels are dramatically different between countries, and the real limit on solar – the point where storage becomes required – is peak power consumption in the summer at midday.

    A proper metric would therefore measure installed capacity in terms of peak summer demand, which I attempted here (the chart is being updated for 2014 now):


  2. There is absolute chaos in The Netherlands about truly installed PV capacity in my country. According to estimates by the person most in the know, (Peter Segaar of the accumulation at the end of 2014 could be as high as 1 GW. With 16.9 million inhabitants, that works out to around 59 W per capita. So we would deserve that 9th spot ahead of the US and China.

    Problem is that we never had any systematic, stable incentive regime like for example Germany. Instead it was a hodgepodge of different, overly complex and short-lived incentive laws. Consequence is that most capacity has been installed by citizen ‘anarchists’ under a net metering regime. So these installations are never properly registered and most fly completely under the radar.

    So that’s why there is no reliable data for the Netherlands. CBS is having its hands full trying to collect the data.


    1. If the per capita list included countries not in the top 10 by cumulative numbers, Greece, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania would all beat 59 W, so I hesitate to agree unconditionally with the above statement that the Netherlands would “deserve that 9th spot”.

      But thanks for the additional info.

      Maybe someone should try a ranking of countries with lower populations. I recall that the ranking site has lots of different categories.


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