MapMaker: Renewable Energy Capacity in Megawatts, by Year

MapMaker: Renewable Energy Capacity in Megawatts, by Year

Explore this map layer that displays the quantity of megawatts different countries, areas, and regions around the world have the capacity to generate from renewable sources, as of 2019.


5 - 12+


Conservation, Earth Science, Climatology, Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Human Geography, Physical Geography

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Renewable energy is often defined as energy derived from sources that are replenished naturally and regularly. Many of these sources, like solar energy and wind, are sufficiently abundant that there is little risk of humanity exhausting their supply. Solar and wind are also among the energy sources that, relative to fossil fuels, produce low levels of emissions when used to generate heat and electricity—an added benefit.

Renewable energy infrastructure exists all over the world, though it’s more built up in some regions and countries than in others. Some maps show the potential or existing renewable energy capacity by U.S. state or county. This layer shows the installed renewable energy capacity in more than 100 different countries, areas, and regions of the world.

This layer is based on data collected by the International Renewable Energy Agency from a questionnaire, government statistics, industry reports, and other information sources. The data point it uses—installed renewable energy capacity, measured in megawatts—reflects the electricity-generating capacity of operational power plants and other installations that use renewable sources. These sources include hydropower, marine energy, onshore and offshore wind energy, solar energy, bioenergy, and geothermal energy.

You can use this layer to compare and contrast countries’ renewable energy infrastructure. The bigger an area’s circle is, the greater its installed renewable energy capacity is; in 2019, China led the world with more than 700,000 megawatts, the United States trailed with more than 250,000, and Brazil, India, Germany, and Canada were the only other countries at more than 100,000 megawatts. Clicking on a circle will produce a pop-up table showing that area’s figure each year from 2015 to 2019. What trends do you notice?

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Gabe Brison-Trezise, National Geographic Society
Expert Reviewer
Anita Palmer
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

February 20, 2024

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