Annual EU solar PV deployment reaches new high of 25.9GW

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
A recently completed project in Germany, which now has almost 60GW of solar PV installed. Image: EnBW.

The European Union’s (EU) solar PV sector has navigated a year beset by supply chain disruptions and module prices hikes to post record levels of annual deployment, according to research from SolarPower Europe (SPE).

Around 25.9GW of solar PV was added by the bloc’s 27 member states in 2021, a 34% increase on last year’s figure, the trade association said in its latest EU Market Outlook for Solar Power report, published today.

While the capacity addition is 16% higher than SPE’s forecast in last year’s report, it is 5% lower than projections included in its Global Market Outlook, released in July, when it was less clear how supply shortage-related project delays would impact deployment.

Taking the EU’s total solar fleet up to 164.9GW, the latest figures come ten years after the previous record of 21.4GW of solar additions was set in 2011, which marked the beginning of a years-long slump as the sector transitioned from feed-in tariffs to new incentives and market models.

In 2021, the top five countries for solar deployment remained the same as last year as Germany topped the ranking by adding 5.3GW, up on 4.9GW installed in 2020. SPE said the country has been experiencing a second boost since 2018, thanks in part to attractive feed-in premiums for medium- to large-scale commercial systems and a tried and tested regulatory scheme.

Spain added 3.8GW, with the vast majority of projects realised from power purchase agreement-based systems out of a “gigantic pipeline under development” in the country, according to SPE. “This makes the Southern European country probably the world’s largest market for subsidy-free solar, but it also demonstrates that grid constraints can be a major burden for rapid deployment of large solar volumes,” the report said.

The third spot is taken by the Netherlands, which added 3.2GW, with the commercial rooftop segment said to be the main driver of growth. Installs could have been even higher, SPE said, but the sector is facing challenges in terms of securing land and grid connections.

Poland continued its upward trajectory, adding 3.2GW, while France was in fifth place, deploying a record 2.5GW.

Top five EU markets for solar deployment in 2021

CountryCapacity additions (GW)Total installed capacity (GW)
The Netherlands3.313.1
Poland 3.27.1
Figures from SolarPower Europe’s EU Market Outlook For Solar Power 2021 – 2025 report.

Making up the top ten EU markets for 2021 solar deployment are Greece (which added 1.6GW), Denmark (1.2GW), Italy (800MW), Hungary (700MW) and Sweden (700MW).

The report describes Denmark as the EU’s “latest solar shooting star”, with gigawatt-scale achieved almost exclusively through utility-scale PV projects built without subsidies for supplying power to corporate buyers.

This year’s record is considered only another milestone towards much higher annual installation levels in the coming years, SPE said, with annual EU deployment set to pass the 30GW threshold next year before reaching almost 50GW in 2025.

According to the trade association’s projections, all EU member states are on track to reach the solar targets included in their National Energy Climate Plans (NECPs) by 2030 or earlier. While it said this reflects solar’s “exceptional performance when it comes to cost competitiveness and technological versatility”, it demonstrates that deployment ambitions need to be raised.

Estonia and Latvia are said to have already reached their 2030 deployment goals already, while Poland, Ireland and Sweden are expected to do so in 2022.

SPE forecasts that the EU’s total solar fleet will increase from 165GW installed today to 672GW in 2030.

While the European Commission earlier this year updated its Renewable Energy Directive to target 40% renewables in the bloc’s energy mix by 2030, SPE is calling for at least 45%, which it believes will put the continent on track to deliver on the 1.5° Paris Agreement scenario.

To reach that milestone, it would be necessary to have 870GW of solar installed by 2030, which is 29%, or 198GW, higher than the association’s most-likely scenario projections.

Read Next

January 27, 2022
Major European solar developers have called on the European Union (EU) to develop a PV supply chain strategy to avoid cost increases and disruption to projects, with the group calling for 20GW of manufacturing capacity by 2030.
January 25, 2022
Regulators in Nevada have paved the way for two solar-storage hybrid projects to replace a legacy coal power plant in the US state, approving their sale to utility NV Energy.
January 21, 2022
India is at risk of a supply and demand mismatch for solar equipment if domestic PV manufacturers are unable to meet the quantity and quality required by project developers, Fitch Solutions has warned.
January 19, 2022
Innovative Solar Systems (ISS), a utility-scale solar developer with a 12GW pipeline, has put itself up for sale, as it seeks partners to support the company in its development of ever larger PV projects across the US.
January 19, 2022
Renewables developer R.Power has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with energy trader Axpo for nearly 300MWp of solar in Poland.
PV Tech Premium
January 18, 2022
Solar project developer Eco Energy World is aiming to “aggressively” grow its US PV pipeline after formally entering the market last week and intends to replicate the cheaper engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) costs it sees in Europe in the country. PV Tech Premium speaks to CEO Svante Kumlin to find out more.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
February 23, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 8, 2022
London, UK
Solar Media Events
March 23, 2022
Austin, Texas, USA
Solar Media Events
March 29, 2022
Lisbon, Portugal
Solar Media Events
April 25, 2022
Berlin, Germany