This Country Is Leading the Way in Solar Power

Alternative energy has been part of the global effort to diversify away from fossil fuels for decades. Fossil fuels are not only pollutants. They also are expensive, as the recent oil crisis shows. Most of the effort has focused on wind and solar power, but geothermal and hydro energy sources remain critical alternatives as well.

Worldwide solar electricity generation has risen by a record 20%, and solar capacity expanded by 127 gigawatts, according to a BP report. While solar power generation is generally increasing and carbon dioxide emissions are generally declining, this is not true in all countries.

To identify the country with the fastest-growing solar industries, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the solar-generation growth rate from 2009 to 2019 from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy report. Generation of electricity is measured in terawatt (1 trillion watts) hours. Solar generation values smaller than 0.01 terawatts were converted to megawatt (1 million watts) hours. All solar data came from the BP report. Population data for the 79 countries considered came from the World Bank World Development Indicators for 2020.

In the report’s introduction, BP CEO Bernard Looney said, “Remarkably, wind and solar capacity increased by a colossal 238 GW [in 2020] – 50% ‎larger than any previous expansion. Likewise, the share of wind and solar generation in the global ‎power mix recorded its largest ever increase.” He added that carbon emissions from energy use fell by more than ‎‎6% in 2020, the largest decline since 1945.

In the United States, solar power capacity has climbed to 97.2 gigawatts in 2021 from just 0.34 GW in 2008, according to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Currently, 3% of U.S. electricity is derived from solar energy in the form of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power. Since 2014, the average cost of solar PV panels has slid about 70%.

The United States is 34th on the list in terms of annual solar power growth from 2009 to 2019 but was second in the world in solar generation in 2019 and 2020.

The country with the most energy driven by solar power is Ecuador. Here are the details:

  • Solar power growth rate per year 2009 to 2019: 170.7%
  • Solar power growth rate 2009 to 2019: −0.3% (72nd highest)
  • Solar generation in 2009: 7.88 megawatt hours (52nd largest)
  • Solar generation in 2019: 0.17 terawatt hours (57th largest)
  • Solar generation in 2020: 0.17 terawatt hours (62nd largest)
  • Population: 17,643,060 (43rd largest)

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