Special Report

Countries Leading the Way in Solar Power

LeoPatrizi / E+ via Getty Images

Now that President Joe Biden has returned the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and with the surging costs of fossil fuels, there is renewed interest in renewable energy sources in America. That is reflected by the increase in solar power in the U.S. and other nations.

To identify the countries with the fastest-growing solar sectors, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the solar-generation growth rate from 2009 to 2019 from the British Petroleum “Statistical Review of World Energy” report. Generation of electricity is measured in terawatt (1 trillion watts) hours. All solar data came from the BP report. Population data for the 79 countries considered came from the World Bank.

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. 

Worldwide solar electricity generation rose by a record 20%, and solar capacity expanded by 127 gigawatts, according to the BP report. While solar power generation is generally increasing and carbon dioxide emissions are generally declining, this is not true in all countries. These are the 25 countries increasing emissions the fastest.

In the U.S., solar power capacity has climbed to 97.2 gigawattsin 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 photovoltaicsand concentrating solar-thermal power. Since 2014, the average cost of solar PV panels has slid about  70%. (Another renewable energy source is wind. These are U.S. wind farms generating the most electricity.)

The U.S., which is 34th on the list in terms of annual solar power growth from 2009 to 2019, was second in the world in solar generation in 2019 and 2020. China, 12th on the list, was first in solar generation in the same two years.

Eight countries on our list have solar-power growth rate per year from 2009 to 2019 of more than 100%. South America landed just two countries on the list. However, those two are among the top three in solar power growth rate. Nearly half of the 50 nations on our list are from Europe, and 16 are from Asia.

Click here to see the countries leading the way in solar power
Click here to see our detailed methodology

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50. Luxembourg
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 20.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 57.9% – #15 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.02 terawatt hours – #24 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.13 terawatt hours – #61 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.21 terawatt hours – #58 largest
> Population: 630,419 – #78 largest

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49. Germany
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 21.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 8.8% – #46 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 6.58 terawatt hours – #1 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 46.39 terawatt hours – #4 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 50.60 terawatt hours – #5 largest
> Population: 83,160,871 – #16 largest

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

48. Portugal
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 23.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 25.9% – #28 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.16 terawatt hours – #11 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.34 terawatt hours – #36 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.70 terawatt hours – #35 largest
> Population: 10,297,081 – #49 largest

Source: Ekely / iStock via Getty Images

47. Norway
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 30.1%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 26.1% – #27 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 7,700 megawatt hours – #27 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.11 terawatt hours – #64 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.14 terawatt hours – #65 largest
> Population: 5,379,475 – #64 largest

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46. Bangladesh
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 30.1%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 17.9% – #36 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.03 terawatt hours – #21 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.35 terawatt hours – #51 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.41 terawatt hours – #50 largest
> Population: 164,689,383 – #7 largest

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock via Getty Images

45. South Korea
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 36.8%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 27.1% – #25 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.57 terawatt hours – #6 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 13 terawatt hours – #9 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 16.57 terawatt hours – #9 largest
> Population: 51,836,239 – #22 largest

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44. Japan
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 37.3%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 14.4% – #39 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 3.05 terawatt hours – #3 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 72.26 terawatt hours – #3 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 82.92 terawatt hours – #3 largest
> Population: 125,836,021 – #10 largest

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43. Belgium
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 38.3%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 20.6% – #32 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.17 terawatt hours – #10 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.25 terawatt hours – #20 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 5.14 terawatt hours – #23 largest
> Population: 11,544,241 – #45 largest

Source: DaLiu / iStock via Getty Images

42. Czech Republic
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 38.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -2.6% – #75 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.09 terawatt hours – #13 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 2.29 terawatt hours – #27 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 2.23 terawatt hours – #31 largest
> Population: 10,697,858 – #47 largest

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41. Finland
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 42.5%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 73.7% – #9 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 4,300 megawatt hours – #32 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.15 terawatt hours – #59 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.26 terawatt hours – #57 largest
> Population: 5,529,543 – #62 largest

Source: Patryk_Kosmider / iStock via Getty Images

40. Austria
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 42.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -6.8% – #79 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.05 terawatt hours – #17 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.70 terawatt hours – #31 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.59 terawatt hours – #37 largest
> Population: 8,916,864 – #55 largest

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39. Italy
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 42.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 9.3% – #45 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.68 terawatt hours – #5 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 23.69 terawatt hours – #6 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 25.95 terawatt hours – #6 largest
> Population: 59,449,527 – #20 largest

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38. New Zealand
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 43.0%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 24.2% – #29 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 3,589.86 megawatt hours – #36 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.13 terawatt hours – #62 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.16 terawatt hours – #63 largest
> Population: 5,084,300 – #66 largest

Source: AlbertoLoyo / iStock via Getty Images

37. Canada
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 44.1%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 4.6% – #52 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.11 terawatt hours – #12 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.22 terawatt hours – #21 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 4.42 terawatt hours – #26 largest
> Population: 38,037,204 – #29 largest

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36. Switzerland
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 44.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 20.1% – #34 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.05 terawatt hours – #15 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 2.18 terawatt hours – #28 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 2.62 terawatt hours – #28 largest
> Population: 8,636,561 – #56 largest

Source: mammuth / iStock via Getty Images

35. Ireland
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 48.0%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -0.3% – #61 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 424.24 megawatt hours – #45 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.02 terawatt hours – #70 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.02 terawatt hours – #71 largest
> Population: 4,985,674 – #67 largest

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34. United States
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 48.5%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 23.7% – #30 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 2.08 terawatt hours – #4 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 107.97 terawatt hours – #2 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 133.97 terawatt hours – #2 largest
> Population: 331,501,080 – #3 largest

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33. Cyprus
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 49.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 48.4% – #20 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 4,000 megawatt hours – #33 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.22 terawatt hours – #54 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.32 terawatt hours – #53 largest
> Population: 1,207,361 – #77 largest

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32. Sri Lanka
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 49.3%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 6.9% – #48 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 6,787.80 megawatt hours – #29 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.37 terawatt hours – #50 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.40 terawatt hours – #51 largest
> Population: 21,919,000 – #39 largest

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31. Australia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 51.3%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 30.0% – #24 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.29 terawatt hours – #7 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 18.30 terawatt hours – #7 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 23.84 terawatt hours – #7 largest
> Population: 25,693,267 – #37 largest

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30. France
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 52.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 11.0% – #42 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.17 terawatt hours – #9 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 11.75 terawatt hours – #11 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 13.07 terawatt hours – #10 largest
> Population: 67,379,908 – #18 largest

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29. Slovenia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 54.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -5.3% – #78 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 4,000 megawatt hours – #33 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.30 terawatt hours – #52 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.29 terawatt hours – #56 largest
> Population: 2,102,419 – #72 largest

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28. Greece
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 56.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 9.7% – #44 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.05 terawatt hours – #16 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.43 terawatt hours – #19 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 4.87 terawatt hours – #24 largest
> Population: 10,700,556 – #46 largest

Source: scanrail / iStock via Getty Images

27. Sweden
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 57.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 58.9% – #13 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 7,000 megawatt hours – #28 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.66 terawatt hours – #45 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.06 terawatt hours – #44 largest
> Population: 10,353,442 – #48 largest

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26. Thailand
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 58.9%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -0.3% – #61 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.04 terawatt hours – #19 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.57 terawatt hours – #18 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 4.57 terawatt hours – #25 largest
> Population: 69,799,978 – #17 largest

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25. Netherlands
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 61.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 50.6% – #19 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.04 terawatt hours – #18 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 5.34 terawatt hours – #16 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 8.06 terawatt hours – #15 largest
> Population: 17,441,500 – #44 largest

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24. Singapore
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 61.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 51.2% – #17 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 1,596 megawatt hours – #40 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.19 terawatt hours – #55 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.30 terawatt hours – #55 largest
> Population: 5,685,807 – #61 largest

Source: RudyBalasko / iStock via Getty Images

23. Israel
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 62.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 75.8% – #8 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.02 terawatt hours – #22 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 3.11 terawatt hours – #25 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 5.49 terawatt hours – #21 largest
> Population: 9,215,100 – #54 largest

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22. South Africa
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 70.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 5.3% – #51 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.02 terawatt hours – #23 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.90 terawatt hours – #17 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 5.18 terawatt hours – #22 largest
> Population: 59,308,690 – #21 largest

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21. Denmark
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 74.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 22.3% – #31 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 3,750 megawatt hours – #35 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.96 terawatt hours – #40 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.18 terawatt hours – #43 largest
> Population: 5,831,404 – #60 largest

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20. Mexico
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 75.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 60.7% – #12 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.03 terawatt hours – #20 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 7.37 terawatt hours – #13 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 11.87 terawatt hours – #12 largest
> Population: 128,932,753 – #9 largest

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19. Pakistan
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 77.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 3.1% – #54 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 5,328 megawatt hours – #31 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.62 terawatt hours – #32 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.68 terawatt hours – #36 largest
> Population: 220,892,331 – #5 largest

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18. Taiwan
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 83.8%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 51.2% – #18 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 9,112.54 megawatt hours – #26 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.01 terawatt hours – #24 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 6.09 terawatt hours – #19 largest
> Population: 23,816,775 – #38 largest

Source: Nikolay Pandev / E+ via Getty Images

17. Bulgaria
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 85.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 3.5% – #53 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 3,000 megawatt hours – #38 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.44 terawatt hours – #35 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.50 terawatt hours – #39 largest
> Population: 6,934,015 – #58 largest

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16. Indonesia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 87.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 773.0% – #2 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 100 megawatt hours – #48 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.05 terawatt hours – #67 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.47 terawatt hours – #49 largest
> Population: 273,523,621 – #4 largest

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15. India
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 90.1%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 26.5% – #26 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.08 terawatt hours – #14 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 46.27 terawatt hours – #5 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 58.68 terawatt hours – #4 largest
> Population: 1,380,004,385 – #2 largest

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14. United Kingdom
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 91.0%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -1.2% – #73 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.02 terawatt hours – #25 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 12.92 terawatt hours – #10 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 12.80 terawatt hours – #11 largest
> Population: 67,215,293 – #19 largest

Source: DieterMeyrl / E+ via Getty Images

13. United Arab Emirates
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 91.3%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 32.8% – #23 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 6,354 megawatt hours – #30 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 4.17 terawatt hours – #22 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 5.55 terawatt hours – #20 largest
> Population: 9,890,400 – #51 largest

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12. China
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 95.2%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 16.2% – #38 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 0.28 terawatt hours – #8 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 224 terawatt hours – #1 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 261.10 terawatt hours – #1 largest
> Population: 1,410,929,362 – #1 largest

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11. Egypt
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 96.8%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 51.3% – #16 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 2,200 megawatt hours – #39 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.92 terawatt hours – #29 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 2.91 terawatt hours – #27 largest
> Population: 102,334,403 – #12 largest

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10. Iran
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 98.5%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 12.5% – #40 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 300 megawatt hours – #46 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.28 terawatt hours – #53 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.32 terawatt hours – #54 largest
> Population: 83,992,953 – #15 largest

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9. Philippines
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 99.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 9.9% – #43 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 1,252 megawatt hours – #41 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.25 terawatt hours – #37 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.37 terawatt hours – #40 largest
> Population: 109,581,085 – #11 largest

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8. Estonia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 102.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 7.7% – #47 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 100 megawatt hours – #48 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.12 terawatt hours – #63 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.13 terawatt hours – #66 largest
> Population: 1,329,479 – #76 largest

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7. Hungary
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 107.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 58.0% – #14 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 1,000 megawatt hours – #43 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.50 terawatt hours – #34 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 2.37 terawatt hours – #30 largest
> Population: 9,750,149 – #52 largest

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6. Saudi Arabia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 110.5%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -0.3% – #61 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 609 megawatt hours – #44 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.04 terawatt hours – #38 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.04 terawatt hours – #45 largest
> Population: 34,813,867 – #32 largest

Source: RossHelen / iStock via Getty Images

5. Romania
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 111.1%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -4.5% – #77 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 1,010 megawatt hours – #42 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.78 terawatt hours – #30 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.70 terawatt hours – #34 largest
> Population: 19,257,520 – #40 largest

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4. Croatia
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 134.6%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 0.9% – #58 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 16.46 megawatt hours – #51 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.08 terawatt hours – #66 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.08 terawatt hours – #68 largest
> Population: 4,047,680 – #69 largest

Source: ivotheeditors / iStock via Getty Images

3. Argentina
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 152.4%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: 67.6% – #11 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 76.08 megawatt hours – #50 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.80 terawatt hours – #41 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.34 terawatt hours – #41 largest
> Population: 45,376,763 – #25 largest

Source: xavierarnau / E+ via Getty Images

2. Morocco
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 162.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -0.3% – #61 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 101.01 megawatt hours – #47 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 1.58 terawatt hours – #33 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 1.58 terawatt hours – #38 largest
> Population: 36,910,558 – #31 largest

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1. Ecuador
> Solar power growth rate per year 2009-19: 170.7%
> Solar power growth rate, 2019-20: -0.3% – #72 highest out of 79 countries
> Solar generation, 2009: 7.88 megawatt hours – #52 largest
> Solar generation, 2019: 0.17 terawatt hours – #57 largest
> Solar generation, 2020: 0.17 terawatt hours – #62 largest
> Population: 17,643,060 – #43 largest

Methodology

To identify the countries with the fastest growing solar sectors, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the solar generation growth rate from 2009 – 2019 from the British Petroleum “Statistical Review of World Energy” report. Generation of electricity is measured in terawatt (1 trillion watts) hours. 

Solar generation for each country on the list for 2009, 2019, and 2020 also came from the BP report. Solar generation values that are smaller than 0.01 terawatts were converted to megawatt (1 million watts) hours. The population for each country comes from The World Bank World Development Indicatorsfor 2020.

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