Solar enjoyed its strongest growth in the EU for a decade in 2019 thanks to a burgeoning Spanish market and a rise in corporate power deals, said industry body SolarPower Europe in a bullish outlook for the sector that sees record installations by 2022.

The EU will have installed 16.7GW of new capacity by the end of the year, just over double 2018’s total, with 4.7GW of that in market-leader Spain, said SolarPower Europe’s latest outlook. The bloc will end 2019 with a cumulative 132GW of PV installed after what was the biggest leap in annual growth seen in Europe since its first boom period in 2010.

SolarPower Europe's medium scenario reckons the EU will see installation growth of 26% to 21GW in 2020, 21.9GW in 2021, and record-breaking additions of 24.3GW and 26.8GW in 2022 and 2023 respectively, beating the previous high of 22.2GW seen in 2011 in a “new solar boom”.

“Our ‘weather forecast’ for EU solar markets remains bright and sunny, with very few clouds on the horizon and no rain ahead,” said SolarPower Europe.

PV’s growing competitiveness and ability to beat other generation technologies in tenders, and the growing reach of subsidy-free utility-scale plants that can compete in wholesale markets are also cited as success factors – as is the dash by EU nations to meet 2020 renewable energy targets.

The upbeat tone contrasts with the outlook given by European wind body WindEurope in October, which warned the next five years are clouded with uncertainty for its sector.

WindEurope’s central scenario said the continent could end 2019 with 16.8GW of new wind installed.