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One thing that has never shut down during the pandemic is the sun, and thanks to the sun, in 2020 the world added enough new solar energy generation to power more than 95 million homes.

That’s 127 gigawatts, or 127 billion watts, of solar power added, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to sustainable energy.

But are we moving fast enough? According to IRENA, we need to step it up if the world wants to align the energy production with the Paris Accord -- wherein it was agreed countries would work to keep the increase in global average temperature to less than 1.5°C. above pre-industrial levels.

Costs of solar and other renewables are falling, clean tech markets are growing and the benefits of the renewables become more clear. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, the numbers offer promise of a cleaner energy landscape.

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According to IRENA’s 2021 renewable energy capacity statistics, the U.S. has an installed capacity of about 76,000 megawatts (or 76 billion watts—a megawatt is a million watts) of solar power, about 10.6% of the world’s total capacity. To put the numbers in perspective, by most rough estimates it’s enough to power 57 million homes. That amount translates to about 231 watts of solar electricity per person, according to IRENA. Recharging your smart phone uses 6 watts, a common lightbulb uses 60 watts, a coffee machine uses 1,000, a clothes dryer 3,000, and a tankless water heater uses 18,000.

As of 2020, the U.S. produced 3.27% of its primary electricity from solar, according to Our World in Data, and Italy produces 9.66% of its electricity from solar. That’s the most among the most populated countries in the world, (Italy is 23rd largest.)

The five countries that have the most installed capacity and the largest share of solar power in the world are China, the U.S., Japan, Germany, and India. 

This list ranks the countries with the highest watts of solar per person. The data come from IRENA and Visual Capitalist.

1 australia sh
2 germany solar sh
3 Fujiyoshida, Japan sh
4 Almere, The Netherlands sh
5 bruges belgium sh
6 italy pantheon rome sh
7 malta valetta sh
8 switzerland jungfrau sh
9 greece sh
10 luxembourgh sh
10 us california solar nipton sh
12 busan skorea sh
13 uk england stonehenge sh
14 czech republic prague sh
15 spain Barcelona sh
16 denmark copenhagen sh
17 uea dubai solar sh
18 vienna austria sh
19 taiwan sh
20 Bulgaria sh
21 france paris sh
23 cyprus sh
24 santiago chile sh
25 israel jerusalem sh
26 Holloko Hungary sh
27 Maribor slovenia sh
28 Carpathian Mountains Ukraine sh
29 petra jordan solar sh
30 estonia sh

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