Europe: PV leading renewable energy

In its new market report, the association says that at the end of 2010, Europe’s total installed PV capacity amounted to over 28 gigawatts (GW), which equals the electricity consumption of approximately 10 million households. Furthermore, newly added capacity, in Europe, for last year alone hit between 11.6 and 13.3 GW. This, says EPIA, represents the same amount of electricity as that generated by two large coal-fired plants.

However, until the figures from Italy – predicted to be around four GW – Belgium and Germany in particular are confirmed, there is still some uncertainty over last year’s total installation figures. Globally though, EPIA says that based on the information as of mid-February, it look likes anything between 14.3 and 16.5 GW was installed.

"The growth of PV has simply been impressive in 2010," states EPIA president, Ingmar Wilhelm. "Decreasing cost, new applications, strong investor interest and continued political support have contributed to this development, making PV the number one green technology in terms of capacity addition in Europe."

Broken down, it was found that 70 percent of the new installations comprised small- and medium- sized systems.

Global leader

EPIA goes on to say that Germany, for the second time, was the global market leader, having added more than 6.5 GW of newly installed PV capacity to its already existing 9.8 GW portfolio. It adds that, for the first time, annual installations in Italy and the Czech Republic exceeded one GW. This expansion, however, has caused many problems in Czech. Belgium (over 200 megawatts (MW)), France (around 500 MW) and Spain (around 375 MW) also all saw "very significant" PV capacity expansions last year. Greece also reached 150 MW and the UK, around 50 MW.

The report states: "Several small but existing markets progressed in 2010 (such as Austria, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia), while most other eastern European markets did not make any significant progress; such as in the case of Bulgaria."

Meanwhile, outside of Europe, over three GW of PV was reportedly added last year. EPIA says Japan represented the main contributor, having installed nearly one GW of new PV capacity. The U.S. (700 to 800 MW) and China (400 to 600 MW) followed in second and third place respectively. Canada (180 MW) and Australia (150 to 250 MW) also show signs of PV promise. However, while EPIA reported last year that there is "huge" potential in the Sunbelt countries, progress is reportedly being hindered by a lack of political support.

"Supportive policy measures for the further roll-out of PV should continue to play their important roles in the years to come," says Eleni Despotou, EPIA’s acting Secretary General. "It will therefore be crucial to design coherent national roadmaps for the development of PV on the way to achieving full competitiveness as soon as possible."

She adds: "Regular, necessary adjustments to the regulatory framework should be announced in due advance and administrative procedures should be simple and transparent. These would benefit the predictability of any investment decision and bring substantial cost savings at the same time."