European PV market remains interesting for manufacturers

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REC’s Luc Graré currently finds the German and U.K. PV markets particularly interesting. Although Germany is recording low levels of new capacity, the British market is still very strong, he said, with several five MW projects already having been developed under the country’s ROC grant scheme.

Discussions with customers and project developers indicate many projects will come online in the U.K. in the third and fourth quarters of 2015, with expectations that 2.5 to 2.8 GW will be installed this year. REC expects to see similar story in 2016; however it anticipates a fast growing European solar market in 2017.

Atsuhiko Hirano, CEO of Solar Frontier, also expects Europe to remain a key market for the Japanese thin film giant. However, he said that one cannot simply focus on supplying solar modules, but it is becoming increasingly important to offer integrated solutions. As such, Solar Frontier is now offering energy storage systems and is actively seeking partnerships with the main European movers and shakers.

Hirano further stresses that it is not only important to focus on individual European markets, but that the region as a whole is key for Solar Frontier. When the market weakens in Germany, for example, it grows in the U.K., he said.

Currently, Solar frontier has a solar PV pipeline totaling over 100 MW in the U.K. Hirano added that there is a rapidly growing market for rooftop solar systems in the Netherlands. Germany also remains an exciting market, he said, in that it is paving the way for solar power post feed-in tariffs. As such, he expects to see opportunities to work on interesting European PV projects in the future.

In another video interview, Gifford spoke to Michael Bellmer from inverter manufacturer LTi REEnergy and Dean Solon from Shoals Technologies about their companies’ new partnership. Solon said that while the major solar markets are to be found in the U.S., China and Japan, the European market will continue to exist.

Bellmer expects to at least see recovery in the southern European markets in the next three years. Until then, MENA, South East Asia and South America, among others, offer interesting investment opportunities, he said.

In a recent report, released by SolarPower Europe, it was found that solar currently accounts for 3.5% of European electricity demand. It calculates that by 2020, solar could grow by up to 80%, from 88 GW today to 158 GW.

Of the 40 GW installed in 2014, Europe accounted for just 7 GW, 2.4 of which were deployed in Britain, while Germany added just 1.9 GW and France 927 MW. Despite this, Europe still leads in terms of cumulative installed capacity.

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Translated and edited by Becky Beetz