- SPE calculates EU to have installed 25.9 GW of new solar PV capacity in 2021, growing 34% on annual basis
- Germany installed the highest with 5.3 GW, followed by Spain with 3.8 GW and the Netherlands with 3.3 GW
- Cumulative installed capacity of the EU now is 164.9 GW
- and in 2022 SPE expects 35.7 GW new solar under high scenario and 22.2 GW under low scenario
With a few days still left before the year 2021 comes to an end, the European Union (EU) can safely call it the best year in European solar history with 25.9 GW of new PV connected to the grid, says SolarPower Europe (SPE) in its latest EU Market Outlook for Solar Power 2021-2025 report.
The 27 member nations that make up the EU, increased their cumulative installations by 34% from 19.3 GW grid connected in 2020, and beats the previous annual high of 21.4 GW reached a decade ago in 2011.
It comes at a time the region, like the rest of the world, grappled with pandemic related disruption continuing, supply shortages and consequent solar module price hikes.
Leading EU installations this year is Germany once again with 5.3 GW of newly installed capacity, followed by Spain with 3.8 GW, the Netherlands with 3.3 GW, Poland with 3.2 GW and France with 2.5 GW capacity. Among the top 10 markets this year, Northern European countries Denmark and Sweden have replaced Belgium and Portugal on the list.
With the addition of 25.9 GW, the cumulative installed solar PV capacity of EU has now reached 164.9 GW, with Germany contributing 59.9 GW and Italy 22 GW. That means the share of the 2 markets reached around 50%, down from 55% the year before.
Short term forecast
SPE expects the EU to add around 30 GW in 2022, and nearly 50 GW in 2025 in its medium scenario. It believes that up to 65.8 GW new additions are possible in 2025 under a high scenario assuming several EU’s 2030 renewables target is lifted to 45% and Germany’s new government promising 200 GW target for 2030 inspiring other member nations.
However, the low scenario anticipates 22.2 GW solar in 2022 and growing to only 32.3 GW in 2025 basing it on major EU markets implementing policies that would disable crucial solar business models, severe trade conflicts and failure to create significant solar manufacturing capacities along the value chain. SolarPower Europe considers its low scenario very unlikely.
Long term forecast
Altogether, the 27 EU nations have committed to add up to 335 GW solar PV capacity by 2030, as per their collective National Energy Climate Plans (NECP), but in the report’s ‘most likely’ medium scenario SPE is confident of the number reaching 328 GW in 2025, showing how unambitious the EU member states NECPs are.
According to the European Commission, by 2030 the EU should end up with 479 GW of solar under 40% renewables share, but SPE sees 672 GW operational capacity in its medium scenario ‘even without further ambitions’.
Nonetheless, that’s not going to be enough as SPE analysts believe the EU needs to operate 870 GW solar if it is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 for which it must also raise its renewables target for 2030 to 45%, up from the 40% proposed by the European Commission.
“What the EU needs to succeed on its path towards 1.5°C Paris in the most cost-efficient way, according to scientists, is to boost solar capacity to a total of 870 GW in 2030,” said Michael Schmela, SPE’s Executive Advisor and Lead Author of the report, “In other words, solar has only nine more years to grow by about 700 GW more than today. The crucial tool to get there is a renewables target of at least 45% for 2030 in the updated Renewables Energy Directive.”
The report is available for free download on SPE’s website.