Global solar power demand grows nearly 50% in 2016, Europe drops by 20%

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Asia and America are quickly embracing low-cost and clean solar power, while the European Union needs to adapt its policy frameworks to get ready for the next solar growth wave

European countries installed around 6.9 GW of solar power systems in 2016 – a 20% decrease compared to the 8.6 GW that was grid-connected in 2015, according to SolarPower Europe, the association of the solar power sector in Europe. In the same period, the global on-grid solar power market grew by about 49% to around 76.1 GW in 2016, from about 51.2 GW in 2015.

The world’s largest solar market in 2016 was China, which officially added 34.2 GW, over 125% more than in 2015. It was followed by the US with estimated solar power additions of 14 GW, up from 7.3 GW the year before. Japan was ranked third, reaching around 8.6 GW, ahead of India with 4.5 GW.

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James Watson, CEO at SolarPower Europe stated, “2016 will be remembered as the year that the first solar power purchase agreements were signed at levels that have made solar the lowest-cost power in many regions of the world. With clean solar being cheaper than inflexible generation technologies in much of Europe today, there is the need to drive the next solar investment cycle so we can pursue the decarbonisation of the European power sector. This requires the right policy framework. The Clean Energy Package recently presented by the European Commission provides very concrete and actionable levers, though there is still room for improvement.”

SolarPower Europe asks the European Parliament and Member States to take into consideration the following 5 top priorities to unleash growth for cheap and clean solar power in Europe when negotiating the Clean Energy Package:

  • We need a strong and ambitious governance framework to steer investment in clean energy
  • We need to ensure that flexibility roadmaps are set-up in all countries, to facilitate the uptake of more variable renewables but also address the overcapacity issue in the power sector
  • We need to adjust market rules to make them fit for variable solar electricity and we need to create local flexibility markets to ensure that all the services provided by solar and storage are properly remunerated
  • We need best practices for the design of tenders to accompany further cost decreases while ensuing project realisation
  • We need a strong framework for self-generation and consumption to place consumers and communities at the center of the energy transition

An update for the 2016 solar market numbers will be released in the SolarPower Europe Market┬áReport 2016 during the SolarPower Summit on 7-8 March 2017 in Brussels. A 5-year solar demand forecast until 2021 will be published in SolarPower Europe’s ‘Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2016 – 2021’ with the support of the Global Solar Council, which will be launched at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich on 30 May 2017.

Source: SolarPower Europe