Solar photovoltaic technology has proven in recent years that, with the appropriate regulatory framework in place, it can be a major contributor to reaching the EU’s target of 20% renewable energy sources (RES) by 2020. Technology improvements and economies of scale have spurred steady cost reduction, which will continue in coming years as the PV industry progresses toward competitiveness with conventional energy sources.
But already today, PV electricity is cheaper than many people think. In the coming years the technology will become even more cost-effective and competitive — and qualify therefore as a vital part of Europe’s energy future. Under the right policy and market conditions, a certain level of competitiveness with grid electricity could be achieved in some markets as early as 2013, and then spread across the continent in the different market segments by 2020.
The expected system price decline will continue to play a major role in the achievement of PV competitiveness.
PV will play an important role in the evolution of the European energy mix, covering about 15% (or, under a paradigm shift scenario, up to 25%) of the EU electricity demand by 2030.
For the second year in a row, PV was the number-one new source of electricity generation installed in Europe in 2012; PV now covers 2.6% of the electricity demand and 5.2% of the peak electricity demand in Europe.
In 2012, more than 100 GW of PV are installed globally - an amount capable of producing at least 110 TWh of electricity every year. This energy volume is sufficient to cover the annual power supply needs of over 30 million European households.
For the first time in the last 12 years, the PV market in Europe decreased in terms of new connected capacity. Even so, in 2012 the PV market in Europe again exceeded all expectations.