Sweltering sunny days came in handy for Europe’s solar industry, which recorded several new heights.
With a series of heat waves sweeping the continent this past spring and summer, much of Europe was scorched by long, sunny days. Yet those sweltering sunny days came in handy for Europe’s solar industry, which recorded several new heights, according to the trade body SolarPower Europe.
“Across Europe, records came tumbling down,” James Watson, SolarPower Europe’s CEO, noted in a statement. “In the UK, solar broke the record for weekly output between 21 and 28 June, producing 533 GWh of power, which led solar to take over from gas as the number one energy source in the country during that period.”
Solar energy generation also achieved a new record in Germany with an output of 6.17 TWh in July. Meanwhile, in May Denmark had 361 hours of sunshine, which led to a 33% increase in solar electricity production in the Scandinavian nation, overturning all previous records. In the Netherlands there was a 75% year-on-year increase in solar energy output last summer. Overall, Europe’s solar energy market grew by 28.4%.
“One of the side effects of this year’s heatwave [was] a record amount of solar electricity production,” Watson said. “In country after country, solar set impressive new milestones confirming the important role of solar in Europe’s electricity mix.”
At the same time prolonged droughts in some countries affected other forms of energy generation. “[I]n France and Germany both coal and nuclear power plants had to be powered down as they could no longer use the huge volumes of water needed to cool their power stations – resulting in intermittent supply from such installations,” said Aurelie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe
“Fortunately, solar was on hand to deliver the power that these technologies could not deliver and as such solar kept the power grid stable and delivering for Europe’s consumers,” she added. “Solar owners have also reaped remarkably high yields, showing the importance of small-scale installations for the energy transition to be a success.”
Much of the rest of the year, especially during long and gloomy winter months, solar power is a less rampantly effective form of energy generation across much of Europe. Yet even in winter months photovoltaic technologies are hardly moribund.
“Contrary to popular belief, solar panels are still effective during winter months,” Deividas Varabauskas, CEO of the Sun Investment Group, said. “Solar energy users need to remember that solar panels are powered by sunlight and not heat,” he added. “[W]e believe that based on the climate changes that contributed to this summer’s heatwave, new records will be set for solar energy output in the coming months and into 2019.”