The solar power sector is a topsy-turvy one, with companies, subsidies and technologies rising and falling. But there’s no question about what region has been driving a market that, overall, continues to grow: It’s Europe.
As of the end of 2011, the European Union accounted for 70 percent of the cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity installed worldwide — 51 gigawatts out of 70 gigawatts — according to a new EU report [PDF].
Germany gets much of the credit for European PV dominance; a separate report released this week said 320 megawatts installed in August pushed the German total to more than 30 gigawatts.
Smaller countries are nowhere in the same league, but some are showing steep growth. A division of the Danish Ministry of Affairs said this month that thanks to net metering instituted in 2010, Denmark will reach its 2020 goal of 200 megawatts capacity this year. The government also said that according to major energy companies in the country, the country will have 1 gigawatts of solar installed by 2020 and 3.4 gigawatts by 2030.
Impressive as these totals are, the European Union report highlights how far solar power has to go to become a major contributor to electricity production. A statement [PDF] that accompanied the report notes that solar production amounts to about 2 percent of the EU’s electricity needs — equivalent to Austria’s demand. But it is making up ground, as this chart shows:
Image via EU Joint Research Centre