The European Union installed 8 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity in 2018, according to the region’s solar trade body SolarPower Europe, an increase of 36% over 2017 figures.
SolarPower Europe published its official estimates of 2018 new solar capacity figures on Wednesday, revealing that the European Union installed 8 GW of new solar capacity in 2018, an increase of 36% over the 5.9 GW installed and connected to the grid in 2017. Solar installations for the European region as a whole — including the European Union plus Belarus, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and others— increased by approximately 20% in 2018, with 11 GW of new capacity installed, up from 9.2 GW in 2017.
The figures are an amalgam of official national government data and national solar associations, compiled by SolarPower Europe, and holds open the possibility that final installation numbers might be subject to change given the long-tail of fourth-quarter data availability.
Germany was the region’s largest solar market in 2018 with a total of 2.96 GW of new capacity added by the year’s end, up 68% from the 1.76 GW it installed in 2017. Germany was then followed by Turkey — which fell from the top spot it held in 2017 — which installed 1.64 GW of new solar capacity in 2018, down 37% from 2017 due in large part to a decline in demand caused by the country’s financial downturn. The Netherlands stepped into third spot by adding 1.8 GW of new capacity in 2017 compared to the 770 megawatts (MW) it installed in 2017.
“It is good to see Europe fully embracing solar again,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “With solar being the most popular energy source among EU citizens, the most versatile and often also the lowest cost power generation source, and with cost reductions continuing, we are only at the beginning of a long upward trend for solar in Europe.”
“We will see very strong demand for solar in Europe in the next two years,” added Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe. “One of the main reasons is the upcoming EU 2020 targets, where many member states will opt for low-cost solar to meet their obligations. Beauvais added: “The EU has done its homework – by removing the trade measures on solar panels and ensuring a highly positive framework for solar through the Clean Energy Package legislation, the stage is set for significant solar growth. Now it is important that EU member states enforce the right national climate and energy plans to sustain this solar boom.”