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European Solar Demand Fell 20% In 2016 As Subsidy Cuts Bite

European solar body SolarPower Europe has reported today that new solar power installation on the continent fell 20% year-on-year in 2016, dropping from 8.6 GW of grid-connected PV in 2015 to around 6.9 GW last year.

In contrast, the rest of the world saw demand grow by 50%, with 76.1 GW of solar added last year (including Europe) compared to 51.2 GW of on-grid solar installed in 2015. China led the way, growing by more than 125% over the course of 2016 with some 34.2 GW added. The U.S. (14 GW of new capacity), Japan (8.6 GW) and India (4.5 GW) were the next largest markets, although Japan’s 2016 installation figures were down on 2015.

According to SolarPower Europe’s head of market intelligence Michael Schlema, the EU is now in danger of being eclipsed by “Asian powerhouses” in terms of both solar power production and installation. “Even the U.S., with a much smaller population that the EU’s 28 member states combined, added about twice as much solar power capacities in 2016,” Schmela said.

The data was drawn from SolarPower Europe’s on-grid estimates based on government-delivered figures. Having analyzed the numbers, Europe appears to have slipped from the top table – and will require strong leadership and a few sparks of inspiration to regain a leading position, added SolarPower Europe policy director Alexandre Rösch.

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see also: They Think It’s All Over: Renewable Energy Investors Pull Back From Europe After Subsidy Cuts