According to the 2012 Photovoltaics Status Report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Europe accounted for two-thirds of all newly installed global PV capacity in 2011. It added an extra 18.5GW during the year bringing its total PV capacity to 52GW.

The report identifies Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK as the solar leaders in the region in terms of installed PV capacity.

The European PV market has grown dramatically in the last 10 years with an average growth rate of more than 40% every year. Driving the expansion is the EU’s pledge to use 20% of renewable energy by 2020 as well as falling production costs. Indeed, the report highlights that production costs have dropped by an approximate 60% over the last 10 years.

However, the European PV market may slow in the coming years as it competes against China where huge amounts of money has been invested in PV manufacturing, leading to an economy of scale in manufacturing in the country. As a leader in PV research and development, the report highlights that there remains an opportunity for Europe to focus on innovation in its PV manufacturing sector by delivering its goods to Asia. It also noted that innovations could result from international cooperation in partnership with Asia and the US.