Access to Finance Key to Raising EU’s Per Capita Solar Generation

EU’s solar generation doubled to 19.3 TW during the 2017-22 period


Rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) can help Europe generate 680 TW of electricity annually – which is a quarter of the current consumption in the European Union (EU) — if the administration strengthens the financing policies like the asset-backed securities that helped the U.S. solar PV sector with $8.6 billion financing in 2022.

The analysis was released by Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) in a report published recently. It said that solar securitization encouraged PV adoption by paving the way for capital market funding of more than $27 billion in the U.S. by the end of 2022.

The funding comprises 40 solar project finance transactions amounting to $10 billion, including three in Europe.

Europe must focus on per capita solar capacity

KBRA projects that the cumulative energy production from solar PV increased across Europe to 193,879 GW until October 2022 compared to 98,950 GW in October 2017.

Under the EU’s REPowerEU plan, each country needs to publish a 10-year national energy and climate plan (NCEP) to meet the EU’s energy and climate targets for 2030.

The NECPs include energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, grid interconnections, research, and innovation, along with targets for the expansion of the use of renewables.

European Union Solar

Figure 1: Solar energy production from December 2017 to October 2022.

The KBRA report said that the Netherlands topped the list of EU countries on the parameter of installed capacity on a per capita basis. The country has set a target to install 1,547 W of solar per capita followed by Denmark which targets 1,307 W per capita, and Germany which targets installing 1,179 W of solar per capita.

Germany set the highest target of achieving 215 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030 which is almost equal to the country’s 217 GW overall installed power generation capacity in 2020.

However, Germany could achieve only 32% of the targeted installed solar capacity under NCEP by the end of 2022, followed by Austria, Italy, and the UK which achieved 29%, 35%, and 29% of their installed solar capacity targets, respectively.

On the contrary, Poland achieved 172% of its solar target under NCEP, Sweden was at 121%, Ireland was at 115%, and Belgium achieved 99% of its target last year, with considerable focus on the per capita installed capacity of solar.

Top 10 EU countries added 36 GW of solar in 2022

In 2022, the top 10 EU countries for solar installations added a combined 36 GW, of which, Germany accounted for 7.9 GW, Spain added 7.5 GW, Poland contributed 4.9 GW, the Netherlands added 4 GW, France added 2.7 GW, Italy contributed 2.6 GW, and Portugal added 2.5 GW of solar.

The solar capacity of Germany reached 65 GW by the end of 2022, representing 28.8% of the total installed electric capacity of 225 GW.

Italy is second on the list with a targeted solar capacity of 71.2 GW, followed by 50 GW set by the United Kingdom.

Last year, the European Solar Manufacturing Council released policy proposals for building a GW-scale solar PV module manufacturing in Europe. The council recommended that the EU produce 75% of the deployed or installed capacities within the region which will help the PV production capacity in Europe reach 35 GW by 2025 and 100 GW by 2030.

Stable policies backing US solar PV industry

Anchored by stable federal policies after the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, the U.S. has over 135 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of the third quarter of 2022, sufficient to power 23 million homes.

The U.S. recorded 23.6 GW of solar capacity installations in 2021, up 19% from 2020, which includes residential, non-residential, and utility solar installations. The residential installments surged by 30% from 2020, reaching a record 4.2 GW.

The average residential solar installation is approximately 5 kW resulting which, every 1 GW of installed capacity being approximately equal to solar panels on 200,000 households.