European photovoltaics market to pass the 100 gigawatt (GW) mark for the first time

Latest analysis from GTM Research has found that 2018 is likely to see annual PV deployment pass the 100 gigawatt (GW) mark for the first time. This boom is particularly seen in Europe. In 2018, experts expect deployment to exceed 10 GW for the first time in years.

Tenders and power purchase agreements mainly drive European solar market. In 2017, it recorded an annual growth of 28 %. A renaissance of solar energy is expected in countries such as the Netherlands, France and Spain. In Spain and the Netherlands, 2018 will see deployment exceed one gigawatt for the first time. Larger PV plants with a capacity of just under 4 GW are also planned in Spain before the end of 2019.

The demand for solar energy is high because is an economical alternative to wind power in public tenders. In France, solar power plants with a capacity of roughly 20 GW are to be set up by the year 2023. Alongside large PV power plants, the country also supports smaller installations and on-site consumption via public tenders.
Other factors influence too: Market developments are becoming less and less dependent on state incentive programs. They are benefiting instead from falling costs and technical advances. Furthermore, new business and marketing models such as power purchase agreements, tenant power and sector coupling are generating new areas of business. The brighter prospects for growth are also due to an increasing commitment to solar power on the part of utilities such as EDF, Enel, E.ON, innogy, Statoil and Vattenfall. And political incentives too are becoming increasingly common across Europe with the use of public tenders, net metering and decentralized “citizen power” generation. In France, for example, the annual capacity of PV tenders is set to rise to 2.45 GW starting in 2018.

In Italy, as in other countries, increasing profitability is one of the main drivers of growth. Direct purchase agreements or self-consumption, as well as a repowering market, are providing crucial momentum here. These make it possible to expand the capacity of older installations up to 20 kWp without causing the operator to lose their feed-in tariff. Spain’s PV market is forecast to grow 35-fold this year, from 40 MW in 2017 to 1.4 GW in 2018. Here too, public tenders account for a significant proportion of PV projects. Another factor is the ambition to meet the European Commission’s expansion goals for renewable energies. These require 20 % of total energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020, and 30 % by 2030.¬† In the Netherlands, the net metering remuneration model for private domestic PV installations and small commercial installations is convincing individuals and businesses alike. Germany is back on a winning track thanks to falling costs, public tenders and growing self-consumption, among other factors. Another boon for the market for self-consumption solutions is the approaching begin of retrofit projects as the first installations reach the end of the 20-year remuneration period fixed by the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), from January 1, 2021. Following this, a range of new self-consumption concepts should act as a further stimulus for the market.


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