Europe embracing solar in a big way says report

Europe it seems is quite the fan of solar energy. The country accounts for nearly two-thirds of global solar installations in 2011, a report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has revealed. 

Yes Europe is leading the way in solar panel installations, and the UK has been identified as one of Europe’s leaders of installed capacity, alongside Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. With a total installed capacity of 18.5GW last year, and an overall total installed capacity of 52GW, 2% of the European Union’s electricity needs is currently being met through solar photovoltaic panels.

The European Commission reports to growth in the solar PV industry which, over the last decade, has grown by more than 40% every year while cost to produce the renewable energy technology have decreased by 60%. It’s partly the reduction in the price of solar panels that the European Commission attributes the increase in installations to.

Commenting on the report, Arnulf Jager-Waldau, Scientific Officer and Senior Scientist at the Renewable Energy Unit said: “From 2008 to the second quarter of 2012, residential PV electricity system prices have decreased by almost 60% in the most competitive markets and in some markets the cost of PV-generated electricity is already cheaper than residential electricity retail prices. Due to falling PV system prices and increasing electricity prices, the number of such markets is steadily increasing.”

Asia has been identified as the country that has seen the most rapid annual growth in the last five years, while China remains on top of the pack as the world’s largest solar panel producer.  Despite achieving a record number of installations the US only managed to reach 1.85GW of total installations last year. However the country is on track to almost double by the end of 2012, with the Solar Energy Industries Association predicting installs to hit 2.8GW.


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