Mario Anzuoni/REUTERSIn a world that's hungry for energy but increasingly wary of the damage that generating power can do, solar might just be the answer: clean energy that's cheap and virtually endless.
Ranking the top 10 countries with the most solar power capacity is a way to see who's doing it best, and who could do it better.
The numbers come from the International Energy Agency's Trends in Photovoltaic Applications report, and while they only go through 2014, it's the most recent data available. (These numbers tell us who is generating the most raw power from solar, not who is providing the greatest percentage of their nation's energy with solar. And they show who has the greatest capacity installed to deliver solar energy, not how much solar energy is actually being produced.)
What's surprising about this list is that relatively tiny countries are on it. Germany, Japan, Italy — they all rank higher than the US, even though we have much more land.
Solar power, for now anyway, requires a lot of space. So for small countries to be leading the way in overall capacity is impressive.
And it shows how much opportunity there is to install more solar in places that have a lot of open land, like the US.
Here are the top 10 countries leading the way in solar energy: