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2011 Was A Great Year For Solar Power In Europe

70 megawatt Rovigo solar plant in Northern Italy.

70 megawatt Rovigo solar plant in Northern Italy.

According to a story by Bloomberg, 2011 was a big year for the installation of photovoltaic panels (solar panels that convert solar energy to electricity) in Europe.  In fact, total installation increased 63% to reach 21.9 gigawatts (21,900 million watts).

That number is impressive for two reasons.  First, it represents 74% of global installation of PV panels (which, to save you the math, added up to 29.7 gigawatts).  Second, it surpassed the combined installation of new wind and gas-powered capacity in Europe (which were each around 9.5 gigawatts).

Such an incredible growth, which was driven by decreasing prices in PV panels and generous feed-in tariffs, is not expected to continue in the foreseeable future.  Although prices of panels will continue to fall, European feed-in tariffs are set to gradually decrease (which is what subsidies are meant to do).  But, don’t feel too sorry for the European solar energy industry: According to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, new European solar capacity is forecast to be anywhere between 9.4 to 21.6 gigawatts in 2012!


If you will indulge me, I’d would just like to end this post by getting something off of my chest.

Renewable energy is a growing industry which Canada is seriously missing out on.  Instead, we are stuck in the 20th century, putting all our economic “eggs” in the fossil fuels “basket”.  As a result we are destroying natural ecosystems, increasing our carbon footprint and yet doing nothing to ensure our energy security because we export much of what we extract!  Our ecosystems, our economy, and more importantly our climate, cannot afford for us to continue down this road.  We need to wake up and invest in renewables!

OK.  I feel better now.  Thanks for listening.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/05/19 7:24 am

    Good for you speaking your mind. I agree that the behaviour of the Canadian government is unbelievably short-sighted, selfish and, ultimately, self-defeating. They are turning Canada into a developing world economy when they should be helping the world develop a sustainable economy instead. Clearly, all your Cabinet Ministers would not hesitate to sell their own grandmothers if it would increase their own personal profitability.

    Although I must applaud Europe’s achievements, I am absolutely furious with our Coalition government for removing most of the feed-in tariff incentives that have been encouraging the required investment in PV. On the other hand, the European-funded industrial experimentation with various means of tidal power generation around the Orkney Islands (off the north coast of Scotland) is excellent.

    However, enough of the experimentation already! Where is the big money? Why can these fossilised energy companies not see that capacity building in renewables could help hem to become the energy giants of the future (rather than the past)?

  2. 2012/05/19 7:41 am

    Spain was doing quite well regarding solar panels. Offering subsidies to individuals to change (way complicated though) and some local areas requiring solar as a matter of course for new build. No idea what’s happened now with the huge recession.

    • 2012/05/19 8:09 pm

      I did a quick “google” search and it seems that Spain suddenly (back in January 2012) cut renewable energy subsidies in order to tackle their deficit. I wonder if they cut fossil fuel subsidies too?

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