New wind and solar capacity in Europe skyrocketed in 2015, growing by 6.3% and 15%, according to new figures.
The new European Photovoltaic Industry Association, SolarPower Europe, and the European Wind Energy Association both published new figures this week reporting in on their respective fields’ capacity expansion during 2015 — and it’s good news all around.
SolarPower Europe reported that the European solar market grew by 15% in 2015, connecting 8 GW of new solar power to the grid, compared to 6.95 GW in 2014.
“It is good to see the European solar power sector again on the growth path in 2015,” says James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe (PDF).
“Solar needs clear signals from policy makers in Europe to be able to contribute to achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris. With solar being competitive for residential and commercial applications in most European countries today, investors need a secure political framework for generation, self-consumption and storage of solar energy.”
Similar good news can be found in the wind industry, with the European wind industry connecting a total of 12.8 GW of new wind capacity to the grid in 2015, an increase of 6.3% over 2014 levels. Furthermore, across the 28 European Union member states, wind accounted for 44% of all new power installations, made up of 9.766 GW in onshore and 3.034 MW offshore.
“These numbers show that wind is the driving force behind the EU’s energy transition,” said Giles Dickson, Chief Executive Officer of the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind energy is a mature industry. It makes economic sense and is contributing significantly to Europe’s energy security and competitiveness goals.”
Almost half the new wind installations in 2015 are to be found in Germany, followed by Poland with 1.3 GW of new capacity, and France with 1 GW.
“We’ve seen strong expansion in Germany in 2015 and a strong year for offshore wind. But growth is uneven geographically,” added Dickson. “We’re not doing as well in countries where the policy and regulation is unclear and/or ineffective – investors and developers go elsewhere.
“Policy is key, especially when we look at the longer term. As of now only 6 out of the 28 EU states have clear targets and policies in place for renewables post-2020. We see more ambition in emerging economies – which puts a question mark by the EU’s goal to be No. 1 in renewables.”
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