Europe leads the world in solar panel installations

Two-thirds of worldwide solar panels installations in 2011 were in Europe totalling 18.5 GW, according to a report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

The 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report says that Europe’s total photovoltaic installed capacity of 52 GW could produce enough electricity to meet the entire demand of a country the size of Austria.
The photovoltaic industry in Europe has grown by an average of over 40% a year over the last decade while production costs have fallen by around 60%.

The installed capacity in Europe now corresponds to 2% of the region’s electricity needs, with Germany, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, France, Belgium, and the UK leading the way.

But while Germany saw photovoltaic installations top 320 MW in August taking its total capacity to over 30 GW according to a recent report, the picture is less rosy in the UK.

The most recent official figures show the number of homes installed solar panels has dropped off since the government’s latest cut to feed-in tariff rates kicked in at the beginning of August.

The end of July saw a large peak in installations rushing to meet the deadline and a marked decline in subsequent weeks compared with installation rates earlier in the year.

In total, there are now over 370,000 microgeneration systems installed across the UK with a total capacity of 1.3 GW.

But despite the decline, the solar panel industry says that photovoltaic systems still represent an attractive financial investment, as well as providing part of a household’s electricity needs.

And a recent survey by mortgage provider ING Direct reports that a solar photovoltaic installation is the most desirable “non-essential” feature of a house for buyers.

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Related stories:
World’s largest solar project in Arizona achieves 250 MW (11-Sept)
UK government cuts subsidies for large solar projects (10-Sept)
Sainbury’s lays claim to Europe’s largest solar power array (6-Aug)
UK government confirms final cuts to microgeneration subsidies (23-Jul)

25 September 2012