In 2017, European solar energy showed signs of recovery. Some countries have reported large increases in data, and some new markets are beginning to realize the possibility of photovoltaics. "Photovoltaic Magazine" summarizes the latest PV developments in continental Europe.
According to IHS Markit, the installed capacity of solar-powered grids in Europe in 2017 was 8.61 GW, an increase of 28% year-on-year, the highest level in five years.
Turkey took the lead and installed 1.97 GW in 2017, an increase of 213%. The installed capacity in Germany was 1.75 GW, an increase of 23%. The third-ranked UK, due to further weakening of government support, was only 912 megawatts, down 54% year-on-year. The Netherlands began to establish its dominant position in Europe. Central European countries, including Poland and Hungary, have also begun to take action, while Spain has recovered from the gloomy 2016, with a new installation of 135 MW in 2017.
With the progress of 2018, Europe seems to have recovered: auctions are taking place across the European continent, and demand for rooftop solar energy in the residential and commercial sectors in Germany and Italy has rebounded strongly. IHS Markit analyst Von Aichberger predicts that demand in Europe will increase significantly in 2018, saying that “Europe will gain global market share by 2020, but will not return to its pre-2014 status.”
Turkey: Integration in progress
After the prosperity is integration. Turkey’s 1.79 GW installations in 2017 shocked many people. But this year is unlikely to continue. The market outlook for 2018 is still relatively low, with installations expected to be 700-800 MW.
Some manufacturers, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors may withdraw from the market by the end of this year. Only a few larger, more mature group companies can survive.
The prospects for the development of large projects will depend on the choice of the Turkish government. There is still some debate about whether the government will choose to further carry out “super project bidding”.
For Turkish solar suppliers, contractors and EPCs, this will be a tough time for the market downturn, but there will be opportunities in the surrounding area. Altay Coşkunoğlu, chairman of the Tekno Group, said that Turkish companies are very flexible in changing direction quickly, and most of them, like some international companies, are very dynamic.
Germany: returning to the right track
The mainstream sentiment in the German market is positive. Growth last year has picked up again, but the 1.75 GW figure is still below the politically expected expansion target. The German Solar Energy Industry Association (BSW Solar) believes that Germany will be able to reach the benchmark of 2.5 GW again this year. The first quarter data gave people hope - 580 MW of new capacity, up 65% year-on-year. It is expected to be slightly below 2.2 GW in 2019.
BSW Solar CEO Carsten Körnig said that in addition to lower prices, a stable policy environment reinforces the confidence of traders and project planners, which is the root cause of the German market recovery. In addition, the German government is committed to allocate 2 GW of photovoltaic power generation contracts in 2019 and 2020. Currently, the tender for 750 kW and above is 600 MW per year.
At the same time, EUPD research analysts said that the outlook for small and C&I roofing systems is still "very positive." Susanne von Aichberger of IHS Markit also believes that this market segment is an important market driver. In contrast, she saw the uncertainty of the market development of the special 2 GW tender project announced.
France: Leading position appears looming
In 2017, France's grid-connected photovoltaics reached 875 megawatts, an increase of 50% over 2016. Since 2015, the country has launched a bidding project for over 5 GW of solar power generation between 2017 and 2020.
In addition, since 2017, small systems including self-consumption PV arrays have had a FIT solution that has brought a lot of growth. In 2016, there were 15,000 new self-consumption PV arrays connected to the grid.
The French government added an additional capacity of 1 GW at the end of 2017. A “Solar Work Group” was also convened and will be held from May to June to find solutions to simplify administrative procedures and increase the speed of PV development.
Xavier Daval, president of the French Solar Energy Association SER-SOLER, said that by 2023 the French PV market will reach a scale of 3 GW per year.
The Austrian government has successfully restored confidence. According to Vera Liebl of the Austrian Photovoltaic Association (PVA), by 2030, Austria's electricity consumption will be 100% from renewable sources, mainly hydropower, photovoltaics and wind energy. PVA expects the country's new installations in 2017 to be 170 megawatts, and this year will reach 300 megawatts. In 2019 it will be further increased to 350 MW.
But EUPD research analyst Ammon is less optimistic that this year's figure should be 220 megawatts, although he saw a "positive trend."
The strong market development of the year was partly attributable to additional incentives. For example, the government has allocated 15 million euros to promote photovoltaic systems and power storage this year and next. On the other hand, solar subsidies for roof systems have also been revised, and the share of self-consumption is largely taken into account, meaning that more facilities can benefit from incentives.
According to PVA calculations, 15 GW of PV will be required to complete the 2030 target. The current installed capacity is about 1.5 GW, which means huge market potential in the next few years.
Switzerland: solid prospects
The Swiss Solar Energy Association (Swissolar) expects the country's capacity to remain below 264 MW in 2017 – the country's 2016 figure. The EUP also expects a slight decline in 2017, while HIS Markit believes it will be in line with 2016. Swissolar CEO David Stickelberger said that Switzerland's growth this year is expected to reach 300 megawatts, while IHS Markit even predicts that this year's growth will be slightly below 340 megawatts and 2019 will reach 380 megawatts. It can reach 400 MW in 2020.
Switzerland is currently introducing a self-consumption policy. Susanne von Aichberger, an analyst at IHS Markit, stressed that even without a one-time subsidy, self-consumption of photovoltaic power generation is often profitable.
Stickelberger also believes that power mobility is also an important driver for the Swiss PV market.
Greece: Solar Return
Greece is preparing to tender for each 300 MW new photovoltaic and wind energy project to be held on July 2, and there will be more tenders for PV capacity between 2019 and 2020. In 2018-2019, Greece is expected to add another 800 megawatts of solar photovoltaic and wind power projects through joint auctions.
According to the latest statistics from the Greek electricity market operator Lagie, Greece currently has a cumulative installed capacity of 2,094 megawatts of large ground projects and 351 megawatts of rooftop photovoltaics. Most of the installation time is between 2012 and 2013. In the December 2014 net metering program, only 16 MW of generator sets were installed.
At the moment, all eyes are on the upcoming auction. Successful bidders will be able to participate in the energy market and will receive a floating premium. The premium will depend on market variables (for example, the marginal price of the system) and the price of electricity set through tendering. This policy ultimately led to competition in the Greek renewable energy market. But this requires more participants. It is expected that bids in July will need to attract at least 75% of the volume of the tender.
Stelios Psomas, policy adviser at the Greek Photovoltaic Association (HelaPo), believes that because the number of mature projects in the tender project is too small, the amount of bidding set seems to be unreasonable.
Poland: Slowly fleeing coal
Although the current solar installation is only about 280 megawatts, Poland is expected to auction about 750 megawatts of photovoltaic power this year, which will further help the most polluted countries in Europe achieve a more reasonable level of renewable energy deployment.
Auctions in 2018 may be no more than 1 megawatt. Large projects should get a better chance in another 180 MW hybrid power plant auction. But wind energy is very likely to be allocated to a capacity of 1 GW.
The Polish Photovoltaic Association (PV Poland) said that in the past few years, the roof solar system of 40kW and below under the net metering scheme has greatly promoted the development of photovoltaics. By 2020, the photovoltaic power generation in Poland will probably rise to 1 GW.
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