EU solar market defies expectations to add 18.7 GW in 2020

SolarPower Europe has published its new EU Market Outlook for Solar Power, which shows that despite the setbacks of COVID-19, the European solar market grew by 11%, adding 18.7 GW of installations. This figure makes 2020 the second-best year ever for solar in the EU, the strongest growth year since 2011.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “It has been a difficult year for all sectors, and so it is very positive to finish 2020 with such a clear endorsement for solar power. Despite the impact of COVID-19, solar has not only grown, it has thrived, proving it to be a resilient, predictable, and secure technology where other energy sources failed. Europe is now on track to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world and solar can help achieve this goal, by not only providing renewable and flexible energy, but also creating millions of jobs and ensuring a just transition for all Europeans.”

Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director and Deputy CEO of SolarPower Europe, added: “Solar’s steady growth in Europe is due not only to its cost-competitiveness, although it is often the cheapest power generation technology available, but also due to its scalability and innovation. Beyond installation on rooftops, European-developed applications such as building-integrated PV and Agri-PV, mean that solar can be deployed across all structures and terrains. The technology and potential are there, we now need member states to increase the ambition of their energy and climate plans, and look to low-cost and job-intensive solar as a solution for meeting their targets.”

The EU Market Outlook shows that Germany is 2020’s largest solar market, adding 4.8 GW, followed by the Netherlands, which added a capacity of 2.8 GW. Spain, last year’s market leader, added 2.6 GW, with nearly 1.5 GW of this coming from PPA-based systems, making it the world’s largest market for subsidy-free solar. Poland installed 2.2 GW in 2020, more than double its capacity from last year, and France rounds out the Top 5 adding 945 MW, with which it crossed the 10 GW total capacity threshold.

The cumulative installed capacity of solar in the EU reached 137.2 GW in 2020, with 22 of 27 EU member states installing more than the year before. The Outlook projects 22.4 GW of solar to be added in 2021, 27.4 GW in 2022, 30.8 GW in 2023, and 35 GW in 2024, bringing total installed capacity to 252 GW.

Source: SolarPower Europe