Solar Most Installed Energy Source in Europe in 2011

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on Jun 4, 2012
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On 10 May 2012, BusinessGreen reported the publication of the latest report of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), showing that in the last year solar was the most installed energy source in Europe. And while the EPIA report confirms that photovoltaic markets saw record growth in 2011, it also discusses the future challenges for the PV industry.

The EPIA report, entitled “Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2016”, assesses both the European and global PV markets in 2011 and is based upon data from national associations, industry members, government agencies and electric utilities. The report found that installations of PV panels increased with 63 percent, thus exceeding the combined wind and gas-capacity installed in 2011. As pointed out in the report, PV electricity continued its market growth despite the economic crisis and the observed consolidation of the PV industry. In addition, the report also shows that with approximately 70GW cumulative global installations, PV is the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity, following hydro and wind power.

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In Europe, 21.9GW of PV systems were connected to the grid, compared to 13.4GW in 2010. According to the EPIA report findings, the 2011 solar market champion is Italy, with 9.3GW of connected capacity, followed by Germany with its 7.5GW; both countries accounted for almost 60 percent of global market growth during 2011. Europe in general continued to dominate the global PV market, representing three-quarters of the global demand, as noted in the BusinessGreen article.

The EPIA report also notes that PV has an important place in the European energy mix, producing 2 percent of the demand in the European Union and roughly 4 percent of peak demand.
Outside Europe, new PV installations in the US rose to 1.9GW, whereas China was the top non-European PV market with 2.2GW of PV capacity installed in 2011. The report findings also show that the number of markets managing to achieve more than 1GW of additional PV capacity in 2011 increased from three to six, namely Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan and USA.!m[](/uploads/story/39/thumbs/solar_roof_inline.png)

As pointed out by BusinessGreen, the PV results in the EPIA report may be contributed to falling solar panel prices on the one hand, and to generous subsidies on the other. And yet, subsidies across Europe are being cut, with Germany being the most recent example. This, in turn is likely to influence the growth of the PV market, and create uncertainty, particularly in the short-term.

Nevertheless, the EPIA President, Dr. Winfried Hoffman, seems confident that the prospects for growth in the medium- and long-terms are good. The EPIA report notes that while policy support has hitherto been crucial for the development of the PV sector, the industry now needs to demonstrate that it is mature enough and ready for its next stage of development. The report, however, also notes that a balanced approach is needed so as to gradually lead the PV industry out of the Feed-in-Tariff era and into the era of competitiveness.

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