Global Solar Power Demand Grows By Around 50% in 2016, Europe Drops By Over 20%

By Michael Schmela, Executive Advisor & Head of Market Intelligence

While Asia and America are quickly embracing low-cost and clean solar power, the European Union and its member countries need to adapt their policy frameworks to get ready for the next solar growth wave - that's the key take away from our first analysis on newly installed global PV power in 2016.

European countries installed around 6.7 GW of solar power systems in 2016 - a 21% decrease compared to the 8.6 GW that was installed in 2015, according to SolarPower Europe, the association of the solar power sector in Europe. In the same period, annual global solar installations grew by around 50% to an all-time record number of 76.2 GW in 2016.

The world's largest solar market in 2016 was China, which officially added 34.2 GW, over 125% more than in 2015. It was followed by the US with estimated solar power additions of 14.6 GW, up from 7.3 GW the year before. Japan was ranked third, reaching around 8.6 GW, ahead of India with about 4.5 GW.

Once a solar leader, the European Union is in danger of being eclipsed by Asian powerhouses, such as China, in both solar power production and installations. Led by China, Asia's PV market share was over 66% in 2016. Even the US, with a much smaller population than the EU's 28 member countries combined, added about twice as much solar power capacities in 2016.


These solar market data are a first estimate from SolarPower Europe for 2016 solar power on-grid installations that are based on official data from government agencies whenever possible. If such information was not available from primary sources, SolarPower Europe has gathered data mostly through its members, comprising national solar associations and corporations, as well as with help from international association members of the Global Solar Council in America, Africa and Asia Pacific.

These numbers were released during our SolarPower Summit on 7/8 March 2017 in Brussels. A 5-year solar demand forecast until 2021 will be published in SolarPower Europe's 'Global Market Outlook For Solar Power 2016 - 2021' with the support of the Global Solar Council, which will be launched at the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich on 30 May 2017.

We would like to invite you to participate in SolarPower Europe's webinar on "Q4/Full Year 2016 Developments in European Solar Markets & Beyond," which will be held on 11 April 2017 from 15:00 - 16:00 CEST.