How many MWh of solar energy comes from a MW of solar panels?

One of the most common questions in solar is:

How much energy (megawatt hours / MWh) comes from 1 megawatt (MW) of solar power?

The answer varies tremendously based on the geographic location and the amount of sunshine but a US national average can be calculated by using capacity factor data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

On average, across the US, the capacity factor of solar is 24.5%. This means that solar panels will generate 24.5% of their potential output, assuming the sun shone perfectly brightly 24 hours a day.

1 megawatt (MW) of solar panels will generate 2,146 megawatt hours (MWh) of solar energy per year.


Download the full spreadsheet via the button at the bottom of the embedded Excel document.

Code: m147 GWhSolPerMW math xbMath

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4 Responses

  1. This is interesting and useful – thanks.

    I am looking at opportunities in the UK. I see that the Capacity Factor you’ve used as an average in the USA is 24.5%. Do you have a feel for the average Capacity Factor I should use for the southern half of the UK (say south of a line drawn through Birmingham ?

    Thank you.


    1. David, data on capacity factors as well as local irradiance and historical weather are available across the US from groups like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). I assume similar data is available within the UK although it is often in a form that takes a lot of expertise to apply to the question you’re asking.

  2. The capacity factor takes the limited hours of sunlight each day into account. A 24% capacity factor implies that sunlight is only availble 24% of the day or year.

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