European solar market grows 28% in 2017

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European countries installed at least 8.61 GW of solar power systems in 2017, that is a 28% increase in comparison to the 6.72 GW added in 2016, according to a first estimate from SolarPower Europe, the association of the solar power sector in Europe. EU member states grew by around 6% to 6.03 GW in 2017 from 5.69 GW in 2016.

According to a first estimate, the largest European solar market in 2017 was Turkey, which grid-connected 1.79 GW last year, followed closely by Germany, which added 1.75 GW. As the official number for Germany is based on system operators’ registrations with the regulator, which come in sometimes later than the actual installation took place, it is possible that Germany will finally be ranked as the number one in Europe

Turkey saw an end-of-year rush with around 800 MW of solar systems either under construction or installed, but which were not fully up and running in 2017. The total market share of Turkey and Germany was around 41% in Europe in 2017.

While Turkey grew by 213% year-on-year and Germany by 23%, the UK, once a solar star, lost its position as the leading European solar market. After axing solar incentive programmes, new installations dropped by 54% to around 912 MW in the UK, from 1.97 GW in 2016, less than half of the 4.1 GW that was installed in 2015. France and the Netherlands, backed by strong government support, showed two-digit growth in solar capacity additions – France adding 887 MW and the Netherlands adding 853 MW. Spain is also showing signs of progress, with 135 MW of new solar systems installed in 2017, a 145% increase from 55 MW installed in 2016.

James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said, “Solar in Europe is growing, this is good news for the energy transition. Now we need the right policies in place to make sure the EU can fully benefit from our clean energy technology. If the trade measures on imported solar panels were removed, according to a DG Justice and Consumers study we could see an increase in solar self-consumption in the EU of around 20-30%. Likewise, if the EU adopted a 35% renewable energy target, instead of today’s 27%, no less than 300,000 new solar jobs could be created.

We are expecting strong growth in the coming years as several EU member states are choosing solar to meet their national binding 2020 renewables targets. This makes perfect sense as solar is the most popular energy source among EU citizens, due to its low-cost, versatility and reliability,” said Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe.

Source: SolarPower Europe