Solar thermal and Solar Photovoltaics (PV) are the 2 available technologies to collect directly the energy of the sun.
End of 2004 more than 15 million m2, equivalent to almost 11 000 MWth, were installed in the EU25.
Greece and Austria show the enormous commercial potential for solar thermal. The most effective solar thermal collectors are today able to generate enough heat to be converted in cooling energy
Even though it has several years of consecutive growth, the sector is presently not at the rate needed to reach the European Commission objectives. The White Paper target for solar thermal is 100 million m2 in 2010, equalling a primary energy input of 4Mtoe, but the European market is only supported by a minority of countries (Germany, Austria, Greece). Therefore the current trend shows an estimated EU installed surface area at 33 million m2, i.e. one third of the White Paper objectives.
To restore dynamism to the solar thermal sector, a strong and coherent EU legislative framework is now the priority.
The Greens work on the establishment of an ambitious heating and cooling directive, like the directive that exists on the production of electricity from renewable energies. Most energy for heating and cooling needs only 80 to 120° C. This is easy to reach with solar thermal devices.
In the area of Photovoltaics the EU reached a cumulated capacity of more than 1000 MWp, with strong growth in Germany which is the world leader.
The prospects for growth in the EU market remain good and the EU White Paper target of 3 GWp installed in 2010 could be widely exceeded with a forecast of 4.5 to 5 GWp.
Meeting this target will require new and pro-active policies to be implemented throughout the whole of the EU.
To support the development of the solar PV, the Greens want to introduce ten million new solar panels in Europe before 2009.
NGO: report on solar future (pdf)
European Solar Thermal Industry Federation