The European solar market is booming. According to industry association SolarPower Europe, new photovoltaic systems with a capacity of 16.7 gigawatts (GW) were installed in Europe in 2019. This equates to growth of 104 percent compared with the previous year when 8.2 GW of capacity were added. Spain was the frontrunner here, having installed 4.7 GW of new capacity, followed by Germany (4 GW), the Netherlands (2.5 GW), France (1.1 GW) and Poland with 784 megawatts (MW).
The EU Market Outlook for Solar Power 2019-2023 expects an additional 21 GW (plus 26 percent) to be installed in 2020. This figure is projected to continue rising in the subsequent years and is forecast to reach as much as 26.8 GW in 2023.
The drivers of growth in Spain are state auctions, long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) and self-consumption. An intermediate scenario predicts that the Spanish PV market will grow by 34 percent a year by 2023 when it will achieve an installed capacity of almost 26 GW. Spain’s goal is for renewable sources of energy to cover 74 percent of its power consumption by 2030.
Key drivers for the solar market in Germany include feed-in tariffs for smaller systems, public tenders for installations greater than 750 kilowatts (kW), the first subsidy-free large-scale solar parks and self-consumption. According to an intermediate scenario, PV is expected to grow by 23 percent this year and by 10 percent in 2021. To meet the expansion goals set to ensure that renewables make up 65 percent of the energy mix by 2030, installed capacity would need to increase by around 8 GW a year.
Photovoltaics is enjoying substantial growth in the Netherlands. Deployment is anticipated to reach 12.9 GW over the next five years, corresponding to an average of 2.58 GW a year. Key market drivers include net metering for smaller systems and, for commercial and large-scale plants, tenders submitted as part of the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production program (SDE+), the first PPAs and self-consumption. The target is for renewable energy to provide at least 75 percent of electricity by 2030.
PV capacity in France is expected to grow by 1.6 GW in 2020 and by more than 2 GW in 2021. The most important market drivers here are tenders for installations greater than 100 kW, feed-in tariffs for smaller systems and self-consumption. According to statutory targets, total installed PV capacity in the country should increase from its current level of around 9 GW to 80 GW by 2028.
Photovoltaics is also experiencing a strong level of expansion in Poland, where 2.5 GW of new capacity is predicted to be installed this year. State support in the form of a subsidy program to increase self-consumption, tenders, tax incentives and low-interest loans are boosting the market here.