This year marks the second-best year for installed solar capacity with a double-digit increase despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to data from SolarPower Europe's recent report.
According to the EU Market Outlook for Solar Power 2020-2024, demand for solar PV systems in the EU grew over a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic to increase by 11%to 18.2 gigawatts (GW).
The broadening acknowledgment of solar PV’s benefits can be also observed in another trend in 2020 when 22 of the current 27 EU member states installed more solar than the year before, compared to 21 out of 27 including the UK in 2019. The report specified that the UK is not listed anymore due to Brexit, which means that last year's No. 3, the UK, is no longer on the list.
"All this has resulted in the European Union increasing the cumulative installed solar power capacity by 15% to 137.2 GW by the end of 2020," the report said, demonstrating the strong resilience that emerged despite Coronavirus negatively impacting lives in many different aspects.
The report indicates that the success of solar power came along with the decision to implement the EU's Green Deal, a set of European Commission policy initiatives that aim to make Europe climate neutral in 2050.
"The European solar sector appreciates the efforts of the European Commission setting ambitious carbon reduction targets, towards climate neutrality via its Green Deal, and through the tools offered in its Next Generation EU recovery plan that tie over one third of financial support for member states to climate-related expenditures," the report explained.
In addition to solar power installed capacity, the green deal offers many opportunities to foster rapid solar growth in Europe.
"Our policy recommendations in this document were developed together with our members, in particular national solar associations, to help policymakers in EU member states identify the many programs on offer, and establish the most efficient incentive mechanisms to boost solar as the lowest cost and most effective power generation technology to manage the clean energy transition," the report said.
-Germany leads in EU
The report shows that Germany installed 4.8 GW, enough to again become the largest solar market in Europe, a position it held for the most part over the past 20 years.
The other Top 5 countries include the Netherlands with 2.8 GW; last year’s market leader Spain at 2.6 GW; Poland, which more than doubled annual solar deployment to 2.2 GW; and France with 0.9 GW.
In total, the European Union’s top 5 solar markets were responsible for 74% of the 2020 installed capacity in the region compared to a 5% higher share of 79% in 2019.
According to the report, the results mean that even though the contribution of the other 22 EU member states was rather small, it is notably on the rise.
By Gulsen Cagatay