Last week IHS reported that Europe passed an impressive solar energy milestone—surpassing 100 gigawatts (GWs) of solar power. That’s well over a third of the 256 gigawatts of solar panels installed worldwide by the end of 2015.
“This is an unprecedented achievement and a cause for celebration,” said Oliver Schäfer, president of SolarPower Europe. “Just a few years ago solar was considered to be a niche alternative technology, but it is now a major element of our energy system. In fact solar power is one of the most competitive forms of energy generation in Europe today.”
The hallmark moment was celebrated by SolarPower Europe, the new European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), which observed that the european nations only had 3 gigawatts of photovoltaics installed about a decade ago. During that period many european countries like Germany, Spain and Italy were leaders in the amount of solar power added. However, as other countries—namely China, Japan and the U.S.—have increased the amount of solar they installed in the more recent years none of the Europe’s individual nations continued to increase the amount of solar they were installing individually. However, as a whole, Europe continues to remain a leader.
“Europe was once the cradle of solar energy, now the rest of the world is catching up,” said James Watson, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “In the current post-feed-in tariff climate we must make sure we have the right electricity market design and the right long-term investments signals for solar to flourish.”
IHS largely attributed the growth to two factors, lower costs and good regulatory frameworks that support solar power in their bid meet the European Union Renewable Energy Directive. “In an increasingly regulated environment, the European PV industry now faces new challenges in installing the next 100 gigawatts,” said Josefin Berg, senior analyst for IHS Technology.
Watson added, “We hope that the European Commission’s forthcoming market design reform and Renewable Energy Directive will pave the way for the 200 gigawatt benchmark.”
Still, reaching the 100 gigawatt mark is quite an achievement. In comparison the U.S. has installed a total of 25 gigawatts of solar power by the end of 2015, according to the annual U.S. Solar Market Insight report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
SolarPower Europe will commemorate achieving the milestone on Sept. 29, in an event in Brussels. The celebration will feature a keynote speech by European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, SolarPower Europe stated.Tweet