According to a new report, solar power in the European Union (EU) saw a significant increase of almost 50% in 2022. This impressive growth is a testament to the increasing adoption of solar PV as a renewable energy source and the commitment of EU member states to reducing their carbon emissions through the growth of renewable energy such as solar.
The report, released by SolarPower Europe, shows that the increase in solar power was largely driven by new installations in countries such as France, Italy, and Spain. We are yet to see official statistics here in Ireland through the SEAI, but as Ireland's largest installer of solar panels we know that 2022 saw outstanding growth in installations and overall adoption of solar PV as a technology for residential homes and businesses across Ireland.
Growth across Europe can be attributed to favourable government policies and incentives and we have experienced this first hand in Ireland with the introduction of the SEAI Solar PV Grant in July 2018 and the introduction of the Microgeneration scheme in 2022 where homeowners will be paid for the energy they export to the grid. Our own partners, SSE Airtricity, have set their export rate at 24c per kWh - the leading export rate in the current Irish market. There is no doubt that these policies have helped to make solar power more financially viable for individuals and businesses, leading to increased adoption.
The growth of solar power in the EU is expected to continue in the coming years, as the EU has set ambitious targets for the expansion of renewable energy. Under the European Green Deal, the EU aims to become climate neutral by 2050, and increasing the use of solar power is a key part of this plan. In order to achieve this goal, the EU has committed to increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix to at least 32% by 2030.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the growth of solar power also brings economic benefits. The solar industry is a major employer in the EU, with over 250,000 people working in the sector. As the demand for solar power increases, it is likely that this number will continue to grow. The expansion of the solar industry has also led to the creation of new businesses and the development of innovative technologies.
While there is still a long way to go in terms of fully transitioning to renewable energy, the significant increase in solar power in the EU is a promising step in the right direction. With continued support and investment, it is likely that we will see even more impressive growth in the coming years. It is important for governments to continue to implement policies and incentives that support the adoption of renewable energy sources, in order to help achieve a more sustainable future and in particular, a more balanced energy mix that cannot become so disrupted by war.