The solar heat market in Europe (EU27, plus Switzerland and UK) recovers the growth trend observed in recent years, after a negative 2020.
Strong comeback in 2021
The total energy generation capacity of solar thermal has been growing continuously for over four decades, and while the growth trend was affected by the COVID pandemic, the market prospects for 2021 and the expectations for 2022 are on an ascendant note. A large majority of the European markets, including the largest ones, are expected to grow, some of them with double digits. The current projections indicate that 2021 might present the biggest percentual increase in annual sales for the European solar heat sector, since the record year of 2008. The predictions are based on Solar Heat Europe’s market assessment surveys ran within its members’ network and are strengthened by good policy news, as new regulations and support schemes have been announced in several countries. The solar heat sector is confident that these positive numbers will be confirmed in the upcoming annual solar thermal market report.
New record for energy generation
The total installed capacity in Europe will continue to grow in 2021, surpassing 38 GWth of solar thermal collectors. The energy generated is now above 27 TWh of heat in Europe. This level of energy generation is a record for solar thermal, placing it as one of the main renewable energy sources in Europe and the leading one in terms of storage capacity, with a total estimated storage capacity over 187 GWhth.
Highlights from national markets
The main European markets, Gemany and Greece had different developments in 2020 and 2021. The largest European market, Germany, had the most positive development in 2020, where the yearly sales grew 26%, it has remained stable in 2021, at 450 MWth of newly installed capacity. The second-largest market, Greece, was one of the most affected by the pandemic, aggravated by logistical issues in terms of transport and supply towards the end of 2020, and its annual sales diminished by 15.7% in comparison with 2019. Though the Greek market rebounded in 2021, with an increase of almost 18%, corresponding to 251 MWth (359 000 m2), the total production of solar thermal panels in Greece increased by 27%. This bigger increase in production is explained by an increase in exports, which represent now 65% of the total production in Greece. In addition, the total area of solar collectors installed in Greece exceeded for the first time 5 million m2.
A preliminary market report for 2021 will be available to Solar Heat Europe members in early Spring. The Solar Heat European Market Report 2020 can be accessed below.