European Solar Demand Grows at least by 28% in 2017 with Turkey being Leading Market

By: Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor & Head of Market Intelligence

European countries installed at least 8.61 GW of solar power systems in 2017 - that is a 28% increase in comparison to the 6.72 GW added in 2016, according to a first estimate from SolarPower Europe's market intelligence team. EU member states grew by around 6% to 6.03 GW in 2017 from 5.69 GW in 2016. (see graph 1)

According to a first estimate, the largest European solar market in 2017 was Turkey, which connected 1.79 GW to the grid last year, followed closely by Germany, which added 1.75 GW. Turkey saw an end-of-year rush with around 800 MW of solar systems either under construction or installed, but which were not fully up and running in 2017. However, as the official number for Germany is based on system operators' registrations with the regulator - which can sometimes come in later than the time of the actual installation - it is possible that Germany will finally be ranked as the number one in Europe. Based on numbers available today, the total market share of Turkey and Germany was around 41% in Europe in 2017. (see graph 2) 

With Turkey growing by 213% year-on-year and Germany by 23%, the UK - once Europe's shining solar star - lost its position as the leading European solar market. After axing solar incentive programmes, new installations dropped by 54% to around 912 MW in the UK from the 1.97 GW in 2016, or less than half of the 4.1 GW that was installed in 2015. France and the Netherlands, backed by strong government support, showed two-digit growth in solar capacity additions - France adding 887 MW and the Netherlands adding 853 MW (see graph 3). Spain is also showing signs of progress, with 135 MW of new solar systems installed in 2017, a 145% increase from 55 MW installed in 2016.      

We are expecting strong growth in the coming years - both in the European Union and Europe as a whole. Several EU Member States are choosing solar to help them meet their national binding 2020 renewables targets, which makes perfect sense as solar is the most popular energy source among EU citizens due to its low-cost, versatility and reliability. At the same time, many Eastern European non-EU countries are quickly embracing clean and low-cost solar by building primarily utility-scale solar power plants, like the Ukraine and Russia.

A market growth of at least 28% in Europe in 2017 is well aligned with our market forecast. In our annually published 5-Year Global Market Outlook, whose latest edition was released in May 2017, SolarPower Europe had forecasted in its most realistic medium scenario a 31% solar market growth for Europe in 2017, 24% for 2018 and 18% for 2019.

Recently, we updated our global market outlook based on our Q3/2017 analysis to nearly 120 GW for 2019 and over 130 GW for 2020. Solar's growth continues to exceed our expectations - a second solar boom can now clearly be seen on the horizon for Europe.




This solar installation data for Europe is a first estimate from SolarPower Europe for 2017 solar power on-grid installations and are based on official data from government agencies whenever possible. If such information was not available from primary sources, SolarPower Europe has gathered data mostly through its members, comprising national solar associations. As data for Q4/2017 is often not yet completely available or will be updated by national entities responsible for solar statistics in the coming months, the actual installation numbers might be considerably higher than this first estimate. 

The 2017 global solar market numbers with details on individual countries will be released during the SolarPower Summit on 14/15 March 2018 in Brussels. A 5-year solar demand forecast will be published in SolarPower Europe's 'Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2017 - 2022', which will be launched at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich in June 2017.