Seasonality and Socioeconomics: Assessing global PV potential for the World Bank

Global Photovoltaic Power Potential by Country is an innovative new study developed by Solargis for the World Bank. The study aims to assess the potential for solar PV in every country, capitalising on several new, market-first, metrics and techniques.

A key finding of the study is that often, the highest solar PV potentials belong to the least economically developed countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. For instance, Niger is currently ranked among the lowest in the Human Development Index and has very low grid accessibility (access to power for rural populations) – but also has very high PV power generation potential, an average of 4.84 kWh per day for each kilowatt-peak of installed capacity.

This shows the potential for solar PV deployment can meet global development and climate change goals in tandem – reducing the dependence of less economically developed countries on fossil fuels by providing a cheaper source of energy.

Read more about the report’s key findings on the socioeconomic potential of global PV deployment in the feature story by the World Bank.


New methodologies for unprecedented accuracy

The study provides a coordinated view on solar resource and PV potential from the perspective of individual countries and regions, using Solargis’ high-resolution PV potential data and technology to compare relevant socio-economic and energy indicators.

To produce a set of accurate and high-resolution data layers, it was crucial to ensure harmonised global input data. Many factors such as Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI), Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI), air temperature, land cover, population clusters, topography and others, must all be aligned before applying geospatial analysis so that meaningful conclusions can be drawn with confidence.

pv seasonality


For the first time, the study also utilises a ‘seasonality’ index, which provides an indication of PV potential seasonal variability. This is calculated as a ratio between the highest and lowest average monthly photovoltaic power potential values in an average year. Although the annual solar yield often drives the project evaluation, taking seasonal distribution is also important. Some countries such as South Africa have stable solar production year-round, whereas a country like Germany can produce 6.5 times as much energy from solar in the best summer month compared to the lowest performing winter month.

Although low seasonality increases the value of solar power, moderate seasonality can be useful in countries where cooling is the primary energy challenge, syncing with seasonal demand. You can explore variation in PV production potential in more detail using Solargis’ monthly country factsheets, accessible here.

usa factsheet

How to explore the study further

The study ‘Global Photovoltaic Power Potential by Country’ has been prepared by Solargis under a contract by the World Bank. This study, and related data, form part of the Global Solar Atlas, which is an interactive map-based platform, which includes solar radiation, air temperature and photovoltaic energy data, and energy yield simulation tools describing solar potential, worldwide. Read more and download the study and related data at

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