EU photovoltaic solar energy installations to reach 84.4 GW by 2020

The EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) announced the release of a report which states that the 27 EU member nations are on track to get 34% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020. The JRC’s "Technical Assessment of the Renewable Energy Action Plans" also estimates that installed PV will reach 84.4 GW by that time, or 2.3% of total renewables.

A day later on February 8th, 2012 the JRC published a study mapping the potential of renewable energy sources on the continent of Africa, comparing these sources to current consumption. "Renewable energies in Africa" notes that in many parts of the continent PV modules can produce twice as much electricity as in Central Europe.

Concentrated solar thermal to reach 59 TWh of annual production

The JRC’s EU report looks not only at electricity production but all energy use, finding that the EU’s 27 member states plan to reach 20.7% of energy use from renewable energy sources by 2020. The report also finds that almost half of member states will exceed their targets and will be able to provide surpluses for other members.

The JRC predicts that the EU can reach 84.4 GW of installed PV with current policy supports. The report also projects that solar thermal technologies will represent 2.4% of total energy use at 59 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually by 2020.

The report further states that the highest average growth will be from concentrating solar power (CSP), as well as marine energy and offshore wind energy technologies.

Currently, EU member states acquire roughly 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, and meet 10% of their heating and cooling needs with renewables. Renewable energy use for heating and cooling is set to rise to 21.4% by 2020.

Micro-grid PV systems; a viable solution for much of Africa

In its analysis of renewable energy in Africa, the JRC states that for PV to considered "suitable" in rural areas, it must be more economically convenient than either diesel generation or grid extension.

The report notes that for many areas, the most affordable option can be the establishment of a mini-grid or stand-alone system incorporating renewable energy generation.

The JRC makes particular note of the very high productivity of PV in many parts of Africa as compared to most of Europe, and finds that in much of Africa microgrids with PV generation could be provided at costs below EUR 0.30/kWh (USD 0.40/kWh), and more affordably than diesel generation.