European demand for solar power decreased by over 21 percent to 6.7 GW in 2016, according to the market research conducted by SolarPower Europe. At the same time, global solar installations grew by around 50 percent to an all-time record number of 76.2 GW.
“The European solar industry is ready to take a larger share of the global market, but we need an open trade policy that supports the growth of solar in Europe and a clean tech industrial policy that supports the growth of solar jobs,” said James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe.
The association organized the SolarPower Summit in Brussels on 7-8 March, where 300 solar industry and policy leaders met to discuss the needs of the solar industry in Europe to be able to contribute to the EU’s goal of becoming a leader in this field.
At the summit it was deemed that the European Commission’s proposed package “Clean Energy for All Europeans” is a good starting point. However, SolarPower Europe believes that a goal of at least 35 percent renewables by 2030 is adequate for the EU, rather than the proposed 27 percent.
Solar power prices in Europe have reached unprecedented low levels – and continue to decrease. In German PV tenders, average solar power prices have reduced by around one quarter in only 1.5 years. The lowest winning bid even reached 6 eurocents per kWh in February.
SolarPower Europe association claims that Southern European countries could generate solar power at around 3 cents per kWh in 2017/18, which is a level hardly any other technology can meet. However, a reliable governance system is needed to steer investment into solar power plants.
While European demand fell, annual global solar production grew considerably. Led by China, Asia’s PV market share was over 66 percent in 2016. and US demand for new solar capacity was more than twice as large as in Europe.