As climate change raises average temperatures across the continent of Europe, the number of sunny days is bound to grow. And more sunny days means more potential for solar power.
That’s one of those ironies of climate change: at times the bad brings with it a measure of the good.
To wit: the harnessing of the sun rays is becoming big business again in Europe. After a dip in interest in solar energy, private investments in photovoltaics are on the up. According to forecasts, solar power installments may increase capacity with up to 17 gigawatts annually within five years, boosting the total potential output of solar power in Europe to 182 gigawatts.
Much of that renewed interest by investors is due to the increasing number of sunny days even in northern European countries. In May, solar power generation was expected to hit a new record in countries like Germany that are not traditionally known for heatwaves in spring. Germany’s solar output could reach nearly 29,000 megawatts on especially hot and sunny days, according to Bloomberg.
“That would beat a peak from last May of 27,796 megawatts,” the news agency explains. “Another sunny spell in mid to late May, not too hot but strong sunshine, could provide new solar peaks, according to Matt Dobson, an energy meteorologist at Meteogroup.”
Nor are such records likely to remain one-offs. With extreme weather events becoming more common, from sudden cold spells to equally sudden heat waves, the continent is in for a rougher ride when it comes to its climate. Investors have duly taken note.
“A new growth cycle for solar in Europe has started in 2017,” an industry publication notes. “After a several-year market contraction, with a little growth in 2015 and then bottoming in 2016, we expect strong demand and double-digit growth for the next three years. In the EU, this is primarily driven by the upcoming deadline for the 2020 national binding renewable energy targets.”
As solar technology is becoming more affordable as a renewable power solution, “several EU member states governments are now choosing this affordable solar to meet their targets,” it adds. “In many European countries outside the EU, governments are taking advantage of low-cost solar and supporting the technology’s growth with attractive incentive programmes.”