The year 2022 has seen a massive increase of solar power in the EU, with a record-breaking 41.4 GW installed this year, according to a new report from industry group SolarPower Europe. This 41.4 GW is enough to power the equivalent of 12.4 million homes and represents an impressive increase of almost 50% from the 28.1 GW installed last year.
“No energy source is growing as quickly or reliably as solar,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, who added that the industry offers a vital “lifeline” amid current crises.
And indeed, should the upward trend continue, the EU could install around 60 GW of solar power in 2023 and be able to harness solar to fully compensate for shortfalls in Russian gas.
Alongside this increase in installations, EU total solar capacity has grown by 25% in 2022, from 167.5 GW to 208.9 GW.
According to SolarPower Europe’s revised assessment based on these new statistics, an impressive 21 member states will have reached their 2030 solar goals by 2025, and the remaining six member states will achieve this no later than 2027.
With the impacts of the climate crisis growing increasingly severe, these predictions carry with them the hope that, as Dries Acke, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe, told Impakter, “more and more, Europe is heading down a no regret pathway towards a renewable energy future.”
Over 41 GW #solar installed in the 🇪🇺 in 2022! Smashing all records📈
This is enough to power 12 million more homes in the #EU equal to the population of 🇪🇪🇱🇻🇱🇹 🇸🇰🇱🇺
— SolarPower Europe (@SolarPowerEU) December 19, 2022
Which European countries use the most solar?
The bloc is collectively performing well with regards to solar installation, as 10 EU countries are now adding at least one GW of solar power a year.
However, it is Germany that is leading the way, having installed 7.9 GW in 2022 and retained its title as the largest operator of solar power plants in the EU.
Spain is now positioned as a close second at 7.5 GW of newly installed capacity, a spot that it has this year claimed from Italy, with the rest of the top five positions occupied by Poland, the Netherlands, and France.
How can we continue to increase our solar capacity?
Within their report, SolarPower Europe highlight five key areas that require focus in order to prepare Europe for the “seismic” solar wave that they believe is incoming:
- Expand the pool of qualified technicians for solar installations.
- Maintain regulatory stability to prevent state market interventions hindering the solar momentum.
- Improve the solar grid on both transmission and distribution levels to reduce the number of connection issues.
- Streamline administrative procedures to prevent the slowing-down of installations. The EU regulation incoming next year, pushed for by SolarPower Europe, will go a long way to achieving this streamlining as 3 months will become the new deadline for permitting procedures related to solar on “artificial surfaces.”
- Ensure a sustainable and diversified solar supply chain to avoid the EU exchanging one dependency for another.
How important is rooftop solar?
In 2022, like in previous years, rooftop has remained the largest source of solar installations within the EU, now representing 66% of the cumulative 209 GW installed across the EU at the end of 2022.
There has also been significant growth demonstrated as this segment added 25 GW in 2022, eight GW more than in 2021.
This growth likely comes as a consequence of rising energy prices and security concers since, as Dries Acke tells us, “politicians and citizens know we can no longer base our energy systems on imported fossil fuels. Policy decisions are now being based on a fundamental principle of energy security.”
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In order to sustain the rate of growth of this segment, initiatives mandating rooftop solar are being progressed across Europe.
The first rooftop solar mandate was, in fact, implemented this year in the German State of Baden-Württemberg; and should the European Commission’s Rooftop Solar initiative be progressed, solar panels will be required for all commercial and public buildings by 2027.
How could the solar industry be impacted if the Russo-Ukraine war ends?
In response to this query, Dries Acke said that “we’re hoping the Russian war on Ukraine ends as soon as possible,” however “analysis tells us that the events of 2022 and inflation will likely keep energy prices high for a number of years,” meaning solar will be just as valuable, if not more so, in the years to come.
According to Acke, “the reality is that the European energy landscape has probably been changed for good.”
Our latest research highlights that installing solar energy technologies on typical new build homes saves occupiers around a £1,000 a year – bolstering energy security and mitigating the energy price crisis.
— Solar Energy UK (@SolarEnergyUK_) December 1, 2022
With these promising statistics in mind, Europe’s renewable energy future seems more attainable than ever before, with solar effectively addressing the “energy trilemma” by offering a sustainable, affordable, and secure source of power.
As Dries Acke says, “Europe is waking up to the reality of solar, and as long as we have the right policy frameworks, we have little reason to believe the market will slow in coming years.”
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Solar panels. Featured Photo Credit: CHUTTERSNAP.