© chrischesneau
© chrischesneau

EU keeps global leadership in solar energy

The EU has added 6.9 gigawatts (GW) of new net solar power capacity in 2015, reaching a cumulative installed capacity of 95.4GW, sufficient to meet nearly 4% of the final electricity demand in the union.

Although it is still a global leader in photovoltaic (PV) installations with 40.6% of the total of 235GW, the EU’s share is down from 66% in 2012 and is declining, both in relation to a growing market worldwide and in actual installations.

According to the Joint Research Centre’s (JRC) PV Status Report 2016, this is due to changing support schemes in EU member states and reduced investments.

Roughly two thirds of the new capacity in 2015 were installed in Asia, with China toping the ranking. Japan followed with 11GW, while the US connected 7.3GW to the grid.

The report, published annually by the JRC, combines up-to-date international information on the PV sector from public and commercial studies cross-checked with own research.

The PV sector is considered one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with a compound annual growth rate exceeding 40% over the last 15 years. PV is an important asset in reaching the EU’s climate and energy goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and achieving at least 27% share of renewables in the EU’s energy mix in 2030.

Since 2005, solar PV electricity generation capacity in the EU has increased from 1.9GW to 95.4GW at the end of 2015. The target of 83.7GW of PV capacity by 2020, set by the national renewable energy action plans, was surpassed in 2014, when it reached 88.4GW.