Europe: Solar market grows 15% in 2015

European countries connected some 8 GW of solar power systems to electrical grids last year, according to initial estimates by SolarPower Europe.

Demand for solar power systems in Europe increased by around 15% year-on-year, compared to 6.95 GW of new grid-connected solar power capacity in 2014, the European solar power sector trade association said Tuesday.

"It is good to see the European solar power sector again on the growth path in 2015," said SolarPower Europe CEO James Watson.

Demand for solar power installations in Europe peaked in 2011 and then declined for three consecutive years.

The trade organization points out, however, that Europe’s solar growth in 2015 can be traced primarily to the strong U.K. market, noting that demand for solar systems in most other countries remained flat or declined.

"Solar needs clear signals from policy makers in Europe to be able to contribute to achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris,” Watson added. “With solar being competitive for residential and commercial applications in most European countries today, investors need a secure political framework for generation, self-consumption and storage of solar energy."

Annual global grid-connected solar installations rose by more than 25% to more than 50 GW in 2015, from 40.1 GW in 2014.

SolarPower Europe, which examines grid-connected solar systems rather than product shipments or installations, will present its final figures for 2015 in a new report in March.

The group will publish its estimates for 2016, including market forecasts until 2020, its Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2016 – 2020, which the organization will present at Intersolar Europe in June.