2019 was the strongest growth year for solar in Europe since 2010, with more new solar capacity added this year than any other power generation technology. Increasing by more than 100% over the past year, solar growth in the European Union has outpaced many of the leading solar regions worldwide.
SolarPower Europe’s first EU Market Outlook for Solar Power shows that 2019 was one of the best solar years on record for the European Union, with 16.7 GW of installations added in the region, representing a 104% increase over the 8.2 GW added in 2018. This makes 2019 the strongest growth year for solar in the EU-28 since 2010.
There are several reasons to explain the growth of solar in Europe. Primarily, this increased demand can be attributed to solar’s cost-competitiveness – it is often the cheapest power generation source – as well as the approaching deadline for member states to meet their binding national 2020 renewable energy targets. EU countries have also begun to prepare for their road to compliance with the Commission’s Clean Energy Package, which sets a 32% renewables target by 2030, where many national governments are increasingly looking to low-cost solar to meet their targets.
In 2019, Spain was Europe’s largest solar market, adding 4.7 GW; Spain has not held this achievement since 2008. Rounding out the top solar markets for 2019 were Germany (4 GW), the Netherlands (2.5 GW), France (1.1 GW), and Poland, which nearly quadrupled its installed capacities to 784 MW. This trend of increased solar installations was noted across the entire EU, with 26 of the 28 member states installing more solar in 2019 than the year before. By the end of 2019, the EU will enjoy a total of 131.9 GW, which represents a 14% increase over the 115.2 GW operating the year before.
With solar being the most popular energy source among EU citizens, as well as the most versatile, and with price reductions continuing, we are only at the beginning of a long upward trend for solar in Europe. In terms of medium-term projections, we expect continued growth for the EU-bloc with a 26% increase in 2020 bringing demand to 21 GW, and installations on track to reach 21.9 GW in 2021. The record-breaking year is expected to be 2022, with an anticipated all-time high of 24.3 GW of installations, and again in 2023 with 26.8 GW of newly-installed solar capacity.