By Hugh Finlay
188 megawatts of new solar electric systems were installed into the national grid in Belgium in 2017. This is a big increase on 2016, when 103 megawatts of new solar power generators were installed.
The main area of growth in solar power was in residential (non-industrial) parts of the country.
The head of the solar power association PV-Vlaanderen, Bram Claeys said “Residential PV is still a quite interesting investment in Flanders (a region of Belgium), thanks to the full net metering for installations below 10 kW. The larger systems show much less growth. Thanks to a number of regulatory changes that will come into effect in April 2018, we expect the market for these larger systems to pick up as well.”
The Flanders energy minister Bart Tommelein has brought out some a number of new measures to encourage the use of solar power by industrial and commercial groups, and has helped to create a new a solar park producing 2.2 MW of power. Also a solar park producing 100 MW of power will soon be installed. He said “Flanders urgently needs large solar projects with a capacity of more than 750 KW. Since the reform of the green certificate system was introduced in 2013, no large solar park has been built anymore.”
In 2016 Flanders had 2,554 MW of solar power installed, with the other two regions of Belgium, Wallonia having 916MW installed, and the capital city, Brussels having 56MW installed.
The solar market in Germany increased by 15% in 2017. Germany had 1,753 MW of new solar power was installed in 2016-17, representing a 200 MW increase on the previous years of 2014-15.
The increased popularity of solar power in Germany has been due to the fact that solar power is now considerably cheaper than it was in the past. The price of solar power is now less than a cent per kWh.
Carsten Kornig, the head of BSW-Solar, is hoping that the government will remove more market restrictions to solar power, saying “Our energy system is ready for more solar. It is time to remove existing barriers.” 21 new solar parks were opened in Germany in December 2017.
The worldwide solar market is set to increase to 106 gigawatts in 2018 due to increasing demand for solar in Europe and especially in China. 2017 saw a new spurt in the popularity of solar power in the world. It is estimated that 100 GW worth of solar power was installed in 2017. Over 50 GW of this came from China, almost 10 GW from India, 12 GW from the United States, and 6 GW from Japan.
There is expected to be increased demand for solar power in Europe in 2018, with large scale solar projects in Spain, France and the Netherlands. This will help to ensure that the global market for solar power continues to grow at its present rate of 100 GW per year.