EU Solar in the World

In 2011 solar power systems worldwide generated 85 terawatt hours of electricity, which was enough for the needs of as many as 100 million people. The global installed capacity of solar PV increased almost 15-fold from 4.5 GW in 2005 to more than 65GW in 2012. Thus, PV became the third largest renewable energy worldwide behind hydropower and wind power. Europe leads the world with 51 GW of installed capacity followed by Japan (5GW) the United States (4.4 GW) and China far behind Europe with 3.1 GW.


75% of the global photovoltaic expansion seen in 2011 equivalent to 21.9 GW was installed in Europe, which is also where 75% of the globally installed PV capacity is located. With increasing contributions from southern European countries, over 60 billion kWh are generated every year, which is enough power to supply more than 15 million European households.


The pioneering role in Europe was played by Germany, after the Renewable Energy Sources Act came into force in 2000. In 2011, however, Italy became the leading PV market for the first time with a newly installed capacity of 9.3 GW. The third largest market was France with 1.7 GW of newly installed capacity. The rest of Europe has also seen significant developments in recent years.


More than 130 European manufacturers have a solar module production capacity of 10 GW - however, production is barely at 50% below capacity limits due to flooding of the EU market by Chinese production.