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Solar energy

Reducing the EU’s dependence on fossil fuels, solar energy plays a key role in both the clean energy transition and the REPowerEU plan.

©iStock (From left to right) Eloi_Omella/Nikada

Solar energy technologies convert sunlight into energy, either as electricity (photovoltaics and concentrated solar power) or in the form of solar heat.

Solar is the fastest growing energy source in the EU. Solar energy is cheap, clean and flexible. The cost of solar power decreased by 82% between 2010-2020, making it the most competitive source of electricity in many parts of the EU.

Key facts on solar capacity

164.19 GW
204.09 GW
259.99 GW

The EU solar generation capacity keeps increasing and reached, according to SolarPower Europe, an estimated 259.99 GW in 2023.

The EU has long been a front-runner in the roll-out of solar energy. Under the European Green Deal and the REPowerEU plan, solar power is a building block of the EU’s transition to cleaner energy. Its accelerated deployment contributes to reducing the EU’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. In addition, solar energy is the most accessible renewable energy for households and contributes to protecting consumers from volatile energy prices.

EU solar energy strategy

These new legal provisions will contribute to accelerating solar energy deployment in the EU.

The EU solar energy strategy launched 3 initiatives

European Solar Rooftops Initiative 

The initiative aims to accelerate the vast and underutilised potential of rooftops to produce clean energy. It includes a proposal to gradually introduce an obligation to install solar energy in different types of buildings over the next years, starting with new public and commercial buildings, but also residential buildings. This proposal is still under consideration by the co-legislators in the framework of the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

EU large-scale skills partnership 

This partnership was launched in March 2023 following its announcement in the Solar Strategy. It aims to address the skills gap in the EU and promotes the development of a skilled workforce in the renewable energy sector. Current bottlenecks in the workforce will become an opportunity for new green jobs, driving the clean energy transition. 

EU Solar PV Industry Alliance

The European Solar PV Industry Alliance was launched by the Commission together with industrial actors, research institutes, associations and other relevant parties on 9 December 2022 to support the objectives of the EU's Solar Energy Strategy.

The alliance is a forum for stakeholders in the sector focused on ensuring investment opportunities and helping to diversify supply chains, retain more value in Europe and deliver efficient and sustainable solar PV products. It also offers policy input towards reducing Europe's risk of supply disruptions and supporting the domestic industry.

The alliance has endorsed the objective of reaching 30 GW of EU-dedicated manufacturing capacity by 2025, across the entire value chain. Reaching this objective would deliver €60 billion of new GDP per year in Europe and create more than 400,000 new jobs.


Photovoltaics is a method of generating electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into electricity. These cells are assembled into solar panels and then installed on the ground, rooftops or floating on dams or lakes. The EU funds many solar cell projects, such as the PERTPV project, in which perovskite-based materials were used to build a new type of solar cell.

Photovoltaic technology is becoming more widely used worldwide. Year after year, photovoltaics make up a bigger share of the EU’s energy mix. In 2021, the EU output of photovoltaic electricity accounted for 5.5% of the EU’s gross electricity output.

Concentrated solar power

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and produce heat and steam to generate electricity. They can be coupled to heat storage technologies to produce electricity both day and night. About 2.3 GW of concentrated solar power has been installed in the EU since 2013, but most new projects take place outside of the EU.

Solar thermal technologies

Solar thermal technologies are used mainly to produce domestic hot water in residential buildings and industry through heat collectors. Concentrated solar heat technologies can also be used to provide heat for industrial applications and district heating. The main advantage of solar thermal is that it is cheap, predictable and does not rely on any fuel.

Solar thermal technologies can be deployed in most European regions and are a particularly good option in Europe’s eastern and south-eastern countries, where solar thermal heat is often the cheapest option to replace fossil-fuel heating.