Nearly 40GW of solar PV will be rolled out across Europe by the end of the year, according to SolarPower Europe (SPE), as the continent scrambles to deploy renewables and wean itself off Russian gas.
The expectation-beating figure of more than 39GW of solar PV is a significant jump on last year’s figure of 27GW, itself a decade-long installation record.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in energy prices it has caused, European governments have looked to accelerate renewables deployment as a means to reduce their reliance on Russian energy imports.
SPE said Russia’s “weaponisation of energy supply” has turbocharged renewables deployment in the region this year, with 39GW of additional solar PV equivalent to 4.6 BCM of Russian gas.
“Every megawatt of energy generated by solar and renewables is fewer fossil fuels we need from Russia,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SPE. “European solar is rolling out as fast as possible in anticipation of a difficult winter.”
On 18 May, and in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU unveiled its updated EU Solar Energy Strategy as part of its overall REPowerEU programme, which is targeting 400GW of solar PV by 2025 and almost 740GW by 2030. PV Tech has explored what REPowerEU means for European solar in one of our Insights webinar series, which you can view for free here.
The European Commission (EC) has described solar PV as the “kingpin of this effort” but analysts Wood Mackenzie recently warned the technology’s contribution was in jeopardy from high raw material costs, logistical challenges and rising module prices.
On top of this, Dries Acke, policy director at SPE, said “a real challenge the sector is facing is a critical skills shortage”, which could “risk not having the number of installers and project developers that we need”.
“This cannot be overlooked in strategic planning for European energy security,” he added.
Nonetheless, today’s figures will be welcomed by European leaders and the solar industry alike but Acke cautioned that such action on renewables is needed “for this winter, and every winter that follows”.
Moving beyond REPowerEU, PV Tech has examined how Europe can go above and beyond the 740GWdc solar target set within the strategy, with many stakeholders calling for 1TW by 2030 instead.
Meanwhile, the EC has proposed regulation that sets a voluntary target to reduce gas demand by 15% by 31 March 2023 and is pursuing the practice of joint gas purchasing to lower costs. The ‘Save Gas for a Safe Winter’ plan would also give the EC the possibility to declare a mandatory gas demand reduction following consultation with member states via a ‘Union Alert’ on security of supply.