Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Chart: Which 10 countries generated the most solar power in 2023?

China was the top solar power producer last year, but it’s not the only nation that saw a big leap in solar production.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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Solar energy continued to surge and break records across the globe in 2023, generating an estimated 5.5% of global electricity, a total of 1,631 terawatt-hours. According to the latest Global Electricity Review” from energy research firm Ember, solar has been the fastest-growing source of electricity for 19 consecutive years. In 2023, solar added more than twice as much electricity as coal did worldwide.

China continues to dominate the solar race, single-handedly producing more than 580 TWh of solar electricity in 2023 — more than the next five countries combined. The United States held onto second place with 238 TWh, while India overtook Japan to claim the third spot, generating 113 TWh from the sun last year.

India’s solar generation has soared over the past five years, growing more than three-fold since 2018. However, coal continues to meet most of India’s demand growth, and makes up 75% of total electric generation. As a result, the country’s power-sector emissions continue to rise and have more than tripled since 2000.

Japan is not far behind in fourth place for solar generation, and it gets a higher percentage of its power from the sun than the other leading solar countries. Solar made up 11% of Japan’s electricity mix in 2023 — about double the global average. It’s now one of 33 countries that get more than 10% of their power from solar, including Chile (20%), Australia (17%), and Spain (17%).

While Germany, in fifth place, has been steadily growing solar generation for the past decade, Brazil — now the world’s sixth-largest solar producer — has built up its solar production at breakneck speed. In 2017, the country generated only about 0.8 TWh; last year, that figure was almost 52 TWh. Brazil recorded the third-largest increase in total amount of solar power generated globally in 2023, behind only China and the U.S., making it the largest solar-producing country by far in South America and a formidable solar powerhouse.

Ember expects 2024 to be another record-breaking year for solar worldwide, projecting solar generation to be between 2,150 and 2,350 TWh. That would mark an annual growth rate of at least 32%, higher than the 26% annual growth that will be needed to reach net-zero global emissions by 2050.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.