Solar energy now at capacity to provide 1pc of Europe’s total power

12 Jun 2015

It might not seem much, but the world has now passed the first of what is hoped to be many milestones with the news that solar power now has the capacity to account for 1pc of Europe’s entire energy creation.

The news came following the publication of Solar Power Europe’s (SPE) Global Market Outlook 2015-2019 report, which highlighted Germany, Greece and Italy as Europe’s biggest proponents of the technology.

Among the findings of the report, the analysis shows that the world’s total solar energy capacity now stands at 178GW, with 40GW created in 2014, up from 37GW created in 2013.

The three European nations mentioned previously got the gold stars from SPE because their total national solar energy creation now accounts for 7pc of their entire energy output.

However, the UK were the most proactive in 2014, producing 2.4GW-worth of solar energy, followed by Germany (1.9GW) and France (927MW).

China has maintained its position as the world’s largest creator of solar energy — producing five times as much solar energy as Germany — installing 10.6GW in 2014, with its neighbour, Japan, following suit with 9.7GW, and the US somewhat behind with just over 6.5GW in the same time period.

Making predictions for 2020, SPE are very optimistic for the technology, predicting that, by then, world solar energy creation could leap to 540GW, but says that the more likely figure is a still-impressive 450GW.

Looking towards the end of this year, the report says China alone will have created 17.6GW of new solar plants, close to its original target set at the beginning of the year of 17.8GW.

Updated 16 June 2015 at 15.40pm: This article has been edited to reflect that Europe, not the world, now has the capacity to provide 1pc of its total power through solar energy, but is not necessarily doing so.

Solar panels image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic