Annual worldwide solar installations increased by 5% in 2018 to 104.1GW, up from 99.1GW a year earlier, according to SolarPower Europe’s (SPE) forthcoming Global Market Outlook report.

Newly installed solar capacity in 2018 in the EU totalled 8GW, a 36% increase on the 5.9GW seen the previous year, while Europe as a whole saw 11GW of new PV last year, up 20% from 9.2GW in 2017.

“As the lowest cost and most easily deployed clean-energy technology, solar in Europe has entered a new growth phase,” said SPE chief executive Walburga Hemetsberger.

China kept the top spot as the world’s leading PV market, with 44.1GW — 42% of global installations in 2018 — despite a 16% fall compared to the previous year, followed by the US (11.4GW) and India (8.3GW).

Germany was the number-one market in Europe with almost 3GW, a 68% year-on-year increase, followed by Turkey (1.6GW), the Netherlands (1.4GW), France (900MW) and Italy (500MW).

“We are seeing great solar momentum and expect a phenomenal solar year for 2019,” said Michael Schmela, head of market intelligence at SPE.

SPE president Christian Westermeier adds: “The EU has set the stage for solar growth by removing the trade measures on solar panels and providing the right framework for solar to thrive through the Clean Energy Package legislation.

“Now it’s time to take European solar to the next level by putting in place an industrial competitiveness strategy that will unlock massive investments in the solar sector, create high-tech jobs and provide the most cost-competitive clean power to meet the EU’s energy and climate targets.”

The above figures were revealed at SPE’s SolarPower Summit in Brussels, but the full Global Market Outlook report will not be unveiled until May.