Double-digit growth: EU solar market defies expectations to add 18.7 GW in 2020
3 min read

Double-digit growth: EU solar market defies expectations to add 18.7 GW in 2020

  • With 18.7 GW added, 2020 is the strongest growth year for solar since 2011
  • Germany is the EU’s largest market, installing 4.8 GW
  • Our market projections indicate continued strong growth, with solar demand set to cross the 35 GW level in 2024, bringing total installed capacity to 252 GW (according to our Medium Scenario)

Today, SolarPower Europe 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.

Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor and Head of Market Intelligence at SolarPower Europe, commented: “The results from our EU Market Outlook are a relief for the European solar sector, which, only a few months ago, was bracing for a market slump. The capacity added across the EU shows that solar is strong enough to overcome a global pandemic, however, there is certainly still room for improvement.”

Schmela added: “While our market projections show that this double-digit growth will continue over the next four years, the delays in development caused by COVID-19 mean that we need to work even harder next year to maintain this momentum. Recovery funds are an excellent tool to drive the green recovery of member states, and to increase the ambition of NECPs, and the European Commission needs to ensure that the appropriate framework is in place to ensure that solar reaches its maximum potential.”

Download the EU Market Outlook for Solar Power, 2020–2024 here.

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