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- Solar power growth in EU set to exceed 2030 targets ahead of schedule.
- 41 gigawatts of new solar capacity added in 2022, marking a 40 percent increase from 2021.
- Experts attribute this growth to reduced costs, global trends, and strategic geopolitical moves.
Solar on the rise
Recent data reveals that most EU countries are likely to achieve their 2030 renewable energy targets earlier than expected, thanks to a significant expansion in solar power, writes Politico. 23 EU nations are projected to meet their solar installation goals by 2027.
This growth aligns with global patterns, translating to the prevention of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions more than initially anticipated.
Javier Esparrago, an expert from the European Environment Agency, praised the growth, attributing it largely to solar power costs per kilowatt-hour falling by a staggering 90 percent over the last decade.
Factors fueling growth
The surge in solar installations can be traced back to various elements:
- Cost-efficient production: Mass production of solar panels in China has driven down prices.
- Geopolitical influences: The Ukraine conflict has encouraged many countries to reduce their dependence on Russian energy by investing more in solar installations.
However, the growth presents its set of challenges. As solar power becomes more prevalent and mid-day electricity prices drop, the incentive to invest in solar might decrease. Therefore, enhancing grid infrastructure and advancing storage technologies, such as batteries, becomes pivotal. Currently, the EU is playing catch-up in this sector.
Predictions and reality
The rapid rise of solar power has taken many by surprise. In June, the International Energy Agency revised its renewable energy forecasts for the EU upward by 38 percent, mainly due to an increase in residential and commercial solar installations.
Jenny Chase, a solar analyst at BloombergNEF, mentioned the challenges in making accurate forecasts, given the rapid advancements in solar technology and cost efficiencies.
These miscalculations could, however, spell good news for global climate endeavors.
Challenges and opportunities ahead
While the pace of solar deployment is commendable, it's uncertain how long it can be sustained. Grid inflexibility in some nations causes waste of solar-generated electricity during low-demand periods.
Addressing grid congestion and preparing the workforce for the solar sector are crucial steps forward. The sector is estimated to employ about 1 million workers in the EU by 2030. Raffaele Rossi, of SolarPower Europe, sees this as both a challenge and an opportunity that requires focused vocational training.
With the EU's intention to decrease dependence on China for solar production, Rossi stresses the importance of a balanced approach in setting new homegrown solar manufacturing targets by 2030.
For now, Rossi advocates that EU nations prioritize increasing their 2030 solar goals to encourage further investment in the sector, promoting a broader clean energy system. He emphasizes, “Setting a target that is reasonable, attainable, yet ambitious is crucial for the sector's evolution.”
Project Energy Society
Together with internet pioneer, Jonas Birgersson, Warp Institute runs Project Energy Society. The goal is a new energy grid comprising thousands of small grids with local energy production (mainly solar and wind) and energy storage. This will lead to an abundance of clean and cheap energy.