According to fresh data published by European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Europe added 18.5 GW of solar power in 2011, which accounts for about two thirds of all solar panels Installed worldwide. Average annual growth across the European countries is reported at more than 40%. This brings the total capacity of solar power in Europe to 52 GW.

Even though most solar panels are installed in Europe, the most rapid growth of solar panels can be seen in some places in Asia. China is still touting the top of the hill as the world`s largest photovoltaic producer.

Across the pond, 2011 was also a good year for the United States. The country reached a record growth in the solar power industry of almost 1.9 GW, which is about ten percent of the annual growth in Europe and more than double the rates of last year:

Arnulf Jager-Waldau, Europe, solar, residential PV electricity, European Commission, joint research center, solar power, solar panels,

Image Credit: SEIA/GMT Research

Arnulf Jager-Waldau, senior scientist for renewable energy at the Joint Research Center, stated the following about the new data:

"From 2008 to second quarter of 2012, residential PV electricity system prices have decreased by almost 60 per cent in the most competitive markets, and in some markets, the cost of PV-generated electricity is already cheaper than residential electricity retail prices […] Due to falling PV system prices and increasing electricity prices, the number of such markets is steadily increasing."

Arnulf Jager-Waldau, Europe, solar, residential PV electricity, European Commission, joint research center, solar power, solar panels, clean energy, Mathias Aarre Maehlum

Mathias Aarre Maehlum

Even though Europe now has a joint solar power capacity of 52 GW, this can only meet about 2% of the continent`s total electricity demand, or cover the power needs in Austria. However, the newfound rates of clean energy growth are encouraging – it will be interesting to follow the progress a couple of years down the line.

Source: European Commission’s Joint Research Centre

Photo of solar plant in Denmark courtesy Denmark.dk.

The author is the founder EnergyInformative.org.

About The Author

Mathias Aarre Maehlum

Mathias is the founder EnergyInformative.org. He works as a freelance writer in his spare time, focusing on topics including solar panels, wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy systems.