New solar installations within the European market will double in the next 3 years to reach a level of approximately 20GW/year. Total installed capacity in the region will surpass 250GW by 2024, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
According to the report, 'Europe Solar PV Market Outlook 2019', Germany will remain Europe’s largest PV market, installing 21GW between 2019 and 2024. Spain will come a close second, with almost 20GW of mostly utility-scale capacity expected. A total of 7 European countries will install at least 5GW during the period, while eighteen will install more than 1GW.
Europe’s solar PV market is diversifying
Commenting on the report, Tom Heggarty, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables Senior Analyst, said: "Solar PV is growing in Europe against a backdrop of rapid power sector decarbonisation. Several EU member states have already committed to 100% renewable power or zero-carbon power targets, while the EU is discussing the adoption of an economy-wide net-zero emissions target by 2050. Over 170GW of gas, coal and nuclear capacity will be displaced from the market by 2040. Solar PV’s share of generation will reach 13% by 2040 up from 4% today.
"Competitive auctions have taken over from feed-in tariffs as the most popular means of procuring solar PV in Europe. 24GW of capacity was awarded to the end of 2018, with another 47GW confirmed across more than a dozen markets. In-line with EU guidelines on state aid for renewable energy, technology-neutral procurement is becoming more commonplace, with solar increasingly being exposed to direct competition with other renewable power technologies - particularly onshore wind."
Europe’s renewable energy market entering subsidy-free era
As noted Feed-in tariffs and subsidies will be withdrawn from many markets within the next 5 years, creating pressure on profitability and cost.
“Investors are beginning to explore new routes to market, such as corporate PPAs and merchant investments. Most investors will see their exposure to wholesale power prices increase. Price cannibalisation will become a growing issue as renewable energy penetration increases. In developed European power markets, we already see that power prices can fall below €30/MWh and rapidly towards zero as renewable energy penetration rises about 50%. Most low-priced hours are overnight but midday price erosion is a near certainty as solar’s market share grows,” added Mr. Heggarty.
Distributed solar generation for self-consumption key
Distributed solar generation for self-consumption remains a crucial part of Europe’s solar market and will account for nearly 40% of capacity installed from 2019 to 2024.
“The region has a patchwork of different models to incentivise deployment - from FITs, to net metering, to investment rebates. As government support is scaled back, it will be necessary to increase rates of self-consumption in order to make investments stack up. Pairing solar with battery storage will become more commonplace,” concluded Mr. Heggarty.