Awakening of the solar age
As 2022 drew to a close, trade body SolarPower Europe (SPE) released its “EU Market Outlook for Solar Power 2022-2026” report. Forecasting year-on-year expansion of 47%, SPE found that 41.4 GW of PV were installed last year. The association expects the 50 GW annual installation milestone to be surpassed this year, swelling to 85 GW in 2026. As SPE remarks: “It is likely that Europe will remember 2022 as the year the solar age truly began.” And it is true that the numbers make for impressive reading. Indeed, with the forecasts made by SolarPower Europe, the International Energy Agency, and others having long underestimated solar’s potential there is a considerable likelihood the 85 GW figure may be surpassed. Broader geopolitical events that have set the stage for the emergence of the “solar age” in Europe and elsewhere in 2022 have highlighted the potential for solar and energy storage to meet the three demands of the “energy trilemma:” sustainability, affordability, and security of supply, as noted by SolarPower Europe. However, it should be remembered that it is the incremental and stepwise progress made by solar innovators that has enabled our industry’s technology to meet those needs. We have delivered lower cost; higher power output; enhanced reliability; and a more stable, predictable energy supply. This edition of pv magazine highlights such innovations in the seven categories of our 2022 Awards. The PV and energy storage solutions selected as worthy Award winners by our six independent juries do not represent any silver bullet to the many challenges of the energy trilemma. But they do demonstrate how relentless, incremental improvement can build unstoppable momentum. making solar and energy storage the extraordinary opportunity it is today. While it appears that Europe, with war raging on its eastern flank is truly awake to this opportunity, the hope is that other regions will come to the same realization – including the Middle East and North Africa region, which is in focus in this edition . As noted in the coverage, the potential of solar in the Middle East in particular is vast and it is my sincere hope that a “solar age” may dawn inthat region soon.