Photovoltaic energy has become one of the most cost-effective ways to generate electricity in Europe and worldwide. The market is booming and demand for production facilities is rising sharply as a result.
Ongoing investments in research and development, technical improvements and a competitive environment are spurring on the mass production of increasingly powerful and cost-effective solar cells and modules.
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.
Property owners who constructed a photovoltaic installation in Germany at the start of the 2000s feed all of their electricity into the public power grid. However, feed-in tariffs will soon no longer be paid for these old systems. According to the German Solar Association, this will affect a good 10,000 PV installations in 2021, with this figure rising by a factor of 20 by 2026.
Floating solar power systems on reservoirs and quarry lakes are gaining popularity and offer vast potential. In October 2019, for example, Europe’s largest floating photovoltaic installation to date was launched in the south of France.
Solar inverters are increasingly becoming smart all-rounders: In addition to converting direct into alternating current, they are now used to analyze and control solar arrays and solar batteries as well as power-to-heat and smart home solutions.
Until recently, photovoltaics in Africa were mostly used in off-grid systems for rural electrification. But today, more and more large commercial installations and solar parks are being built, driven by the steadily declining costs of solar power, growing investor interest and the increasing energy demand of a rapidly expanding population.