Discover solar

Solar is the world’s fastest growing energy source - more than every third power plant installed in 2020 came from solar power, and in 2021 Europe broke its own solar PV installation record, making it the best year in European solar history. With profound technological advances decreasing the cost of solar energy by 90% since 2009, solar is the most affordable source of energy today. Even cautious estimates anticipate solar will become the dominant source of energy in Europe by 2050. Explore the basics of solar power and get to know this clean energy technology enhancing European lives, businesses, and environments.

1

A brief history of solar power

1839
 
Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect
1954
 
First solar panel built by Bell Labs
1958
 
Vanguard 1 satellite first to use this new invention
1970's
 
The OPEC crisis fueled investment into renewable energy and interest in solar power
1985
 
SolarPower Europe (under the name European Photovoltaic Industry Association) emerged to represent the solar sector in Europe
1991
 
Germany launches the first green electricity feed-in tariff scheme in the world, ensuring grid companies connect all renewable power plants
2000's and 2010's
 
Innovation and deployment; have brought even more advancement to the world of solar energy technology
2016
 
100 GW of solar PV generation capacity installed in Europe, rising from less than 3 GW in 2005
2018
 
Utility-scale solar becomes the energy generation technology with the lowest levelised cost of energy - hitting 42 $/MWh
2020
 
Despite a devastating pandemic, solar continued to surge globally, with every third powerplant coming from solar
2021
 
The best year in European solar history, seeing additional solar PV installations of 25.9 GW in the EU. This broke the decade long annual installation record of 21.4 GW EU installations in 2011
2022
 
A bright year for solar, with global solar capacity set to hit the terawatt scale

2

Astounding solar facts

0.16% Today, solar could power the world using only 0.16% of global land surface
90% Solar energy costs decreased by 90% since 2009. It’s the steepest cost reduction seen across all energy technologies
4 mln Solar creates 2-6 more jobs in the construction phase than any other energy industry. In 2020, solar created 4.7 million jobs worldwide.
96% Solar produces 96% less carbon emissions than coal, and 93% less GHG emissions than gas.

Solar Jobs

By 2050 solar power could create 4 million jobs in Europe.

3

How does solar work?

Solar energy works by converting light energy (photons) from the sun into electricity, mainly through photovoltaic (PV) panels. 

 

When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow. 

 

The electricity collected by the PV panels is called direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity then moves to an inverter where it is converted to alternating current (AC) electricity. 

 

It is this AC electricity that is useable and can power your home, car or be sent to the electricity grid. 

4

Visit a solar farm - take a virtual tour!

Visit a solar farm

Look up, down and behind you to really understand what a solar farm looks and sounds like

5

The benefits of solar

Solar benefits shine through across the board

 

Environmental

Solar energy does not produce air pollution or greenhouse gases. In fact, solar saves 96% of GHG emissions compared to coal and 93% compared to gas. 

 

The versatility of solar results in complementary land-use that protects reservoirs from evaporation and algae proliferation, restores biodiversity to fallow land, and reduces water-use while protecting crops on farms from extreme temperatures.  

 

Social

Solar power is the most accessible energy source, providing electricity to millions of people living around the world without grid access. In Europe, during the 2021 gas-driven energy price crisis, solar protected households from extortionate bills – homes with existing solar installed saved 60% a month.

 

Economic

Solar is the most-job creating energy source, and with the right policy support could create 1.1 million clean, green, sustainable jobs in the EU by 2030. Solar growth can feasibly take on all workers from former coal-dependent employment, ensuring no communities are left behind in the just transition. 

 

European solar development will rebuild PV manufacturing on the continent, strengthening European energy supply resilience in the face of geo-political or supply chain shocks. 

6

Solar Power in Europe

EU annual solar PV market forecast 2025

In GW

50 CW

EU cumulative solar PV capacity forecast 2030

In GW

672 GW

LCOE of solar PV 2000-2021

In $/MWh

36 $/MWh

Job creation in 2025

In FTE

584.101 FTEs