Solar optimism sweeps Europe

SolarPower Summit opened in Brussels announcing another year of growth for the global solar sector in 2018 to 104 GW; and huge solar optimism in EU.

Photo: © Shutterstock/Pixelci

SolarPower Europe presented its latest Global Market Outlook at the SolarPower Summit, showing another growth year for the solar PV industry in 2018. Global solar power installations increased by around 5% to 104.1 GW in 2018, in comparison to 99.1 GW in 2017. The EU-28 grew at a much higher rate, increasing by 36% to 8.0 GW in 2018, up from 5.9 GW of newly installed capacity in the previous year. Solar installations in Europe as a whole grew by 20% to 11 GW in 2018, up from 9.2 GW in 2017.

Christian Westermeier, President of SolarPower Europe said: “The state of solar has dramatically improved in the European Union, illustrated by the EU-28 solar market growing at a much higher pace than the global market. The EU has set the stage for solar growth by removing the trade measures on solar panels and providing the right framework for solar to thrive through the Clean Energy Package legislation. Now it’s time to take European solar to the next level by putting in place an industrial competitiveness strategy that will unlock massive investments in the solar sector, create high-tech jobs and provide the most cost-competitive clean power to meet the EU’s energy and climate targets.”

SolarPower Europe’s first market estimates show Germany regaining the number one solar spot in Europe after five years, adding nearly 3 GW in 2018, growing around 68% year-on-year. The second largest European market was the previous market leader Turkey, adding approximately 1.6 GW, with the Netherlands coming in for the first time as a top 3 solar market, adding 1.4 GW in 2018. France ranked just behind after adding 0.9 GW year-on-year, ahead of Italy with 0.5 GW.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, commented: “As the lowest cost and most easily deployed clean energy technology, solar in Europe has entered a new growth phase. Now it is key that EU Member States set ambitious national solar targets and develop robust implementation guidelines in their 2030 National Energy and Climate plans.”

On a global level, China remained the world’s leading market with 44.1 GW and a share of 42 %. While that is a 16 % decline compared to its record year in 2017, it is much higher than market experts had anticipated after China’s administration announced a reform of its solar subsidy program in May 2018. The top 3 global markets in 2018 alongside China were the US (11.4 GW) and India (8.3 GW).

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, stated: “Despite China’s sudden restructuring of its solar programme last year, the global market was strong enough to more than compensate for the temporary slowdown of the world’s largest solar market. The good news is that many emerging solar markets are embracing solar at a rapid pace and China is already coming back. We are seeing great solar momentum and expect a phenomenal solar year for 2019.”

This solar installation data for EU-28 and Europe are first estimates from SolarPower Europe for 2018 solar power grid-connected installations and are based on official data from government agencies whenever possible. If such information was not available from primary sources, SolarPower Europe has gathered data mostly through its members, comprising national solar associations. As complete data for 2018 is often not yet completely available or will be updated by national entities responsible for solar statistics in the coming months, the actual installation numbers might differ from this first estimate.

The final 2018 numbers and a 5-year solar demand forecast will be published in SolarPower Europe’s ‘Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2019 – 2023’, which will be launched at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich on 14 May 2019.

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