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IEA: solar to become the number one power source in Europe within 5 years

The Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Dr Fatih Birol revealed exclusive data from the IEA’s forthcoming World Energy Outlook 2020 – due to be published on 13 October – at the online SolarPower Summit. The IEA forecast shows that solar energy can become the largest power source in Europe – in terms of capacity – by 2025.

“Our numbers show that if Europe is able to follow through on the net-zero goal, within five years of time, solar will be the number one electricity capacity in Europe, overtaking everybody,” said Dr Birol emphasising that clean energy must be at the heart of the global economic recovery, as it offers a solution to the economic and climate crises.

“Solar was essential in offering resilience during the pandemic, and with the framework of the European Green Deal, Europe can lead the world in providing solar and renewables technology,” he pointed out.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe added that despite the market contraction due to COVID-19, solar in Europe has a very bright future as the lowest-cost and most scalable energy technology.

“The new data from the IEA confirms what our studies have shown: solar will become the number one energy source in Europe, and is ready to play a leading role in transitioning Europe to a climate-neutral energy system,” said Ms Hemetsberger.

Last year solar already added more new power generation capacity in the EU than any other energy technology, doubling to 16.7 gigawatts (GW). According to Aristotelis Chantavas, President of SolarPower Europe this trend will continue and 2020 can mark the beginning of a true solar decade.

The National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) of the 27 member states pledge 209 GW of additional solar PV capacity by 2030 (19 GW per year), this would ensure that solar continues to be the most-installed energy generation technology in Europe in the next decade, exceeding the 2030 renewable energy target of 32 per cent.

However, the analysis of SolarPower Europe reveals that although the final NECPs show that EU member states are moving in the right direction to meet renewable energy targets, they still have to overcome some boundaries to boost solar capacities.

“After the analysis of all the EU member states’ National Climate and Energy Plans, it is clear that we need measures to simplify administrative procedures,” said the President of SolarPower Europe.

The key issues identified by SolarPower Europe include the lack of visibility on solar auctions, an enabling framework for prosumers, and the absence of measures to simplify administrative procedures such as the bottleneck on permitting.

According to SolarPower Europe, it is important to support the ambitious targets with a strong regulatory framework, capable of providing necessary visibility to investors.

The analysis of SolarPower Europe highlights the good practices of Member States that contribute to unlocking the potential of solar power. Lithuania, for instance, presented in its NECP an ambitious programme for prosumers, accompanied with measures for the simplification of procedures and capacity-building measures targeted to prosumers. Hungary and Croatia have also included targets for prosumer development.

Bulgaria is also mentioned as a good example in terms of flexibility and storage, its strategy envisions to incentivise investments in batteries through support schemes to promote the combination of new renewable capacity with local electricity storage facilities.

The analysis highlights the example of Greece as well, where the DSO is developing a study to identify the required enhancement of the distribution network and the congested areas of the distribution grid.

PV energy holds immense potential for the future European energy mix, driven by falling costs. According to SolarPower Europe, the final NECPs show an improved yet mixed picture for its future.

The European Commission also assessed the National Energy and Climate Plans of the 27 member states after announcing its ambitious plan to reduce EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55 per cent by 2030.

Photo: Dr Fatih Birol’s Twitter account.

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