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Solar Energy 81 (2007) 12951305 www.elsevier.


Potential of solar electricity generation in the European Union member states and candidate countries
u ri *, Thomas A. Huld, Ewan D. Dunlop, Heinz A. Ossenbrink Marcel S
European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Renewable Energies Unit, TP 450, via E. Fermi 1, I-21020 Ispra (VA), Italy Received 22 June 2006; received in revised form 20 November 2006; accepted 26 December 2006 Available online 14 February 2007 Communicated by: Associate Editor Hansjo rg Gabler

Abstract During the years 20012005, a European solar radiation database was developed using a solar radiation model and climatic data integrated within the Photovoltaic Geographic Information System (PVGIS). The database, with a resolution of 1 km 1 km, consists of monthly and yearly averages of global irradiation and related climatic parameters, representing the period 19811990. The database has been used to analyse regional and national dierences of solar energy resource and to assess the photovoltaic (PV) potential in the 25 European Union member states and 5 candidate countries. The calculation of electricity generation potential by contemporary PV technology is a basic step in analysing scenarios for the future energy supply and for a rational implementation of legal and nancial frameworks to support the developing industrial production of PV. Three aspects are explored within this paper: (1) the expected average annual electricity generation of a standard 1 kWp grid-connected PV system; (2) the theoretical potential of PV electricity generation; (3) determination of required installed capacity for each country to supply 1% of the national electricity consumption from PV. The analysis shows that PV can already provide a signicant contribution to a mixed renewable energy portfolio in the present and future European Union. 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Solar radiation; Photovoltaic electricity generation; Geographical information system

1. Introduction The generation of solar electricity from photovoltaics (PV) is beginning to penetrate the energy market in those countries, where clear and stable policy commitments have been made. In Europe, the example of Germany demonstrates how a policy has stimulated PV growth even in regions with moderate solar energy resource. Although in recent years other European countries have adopted similar policies (e.g. Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Czech Republic), PV technology is still not fully appreciated in many
Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 0332 786661; fax: +39 0332 789992. u ri), E-mail addresses: (M. S (T.A. Huld), (E.D. Dunlop), heinz.ossenbrink (H.A. Ossenbrink). 0038-092X/$ - see front matter 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2006.12.007

regions, one of the main reasons being a lack of clear understanding of its potential. One of the four factors1 determining the economic performance of the PV system is the solar energy arriving at the surface of the Earth. Although the total amount of this energy resource far exceeds human needs, its exploitation is determined by the knowledge of geographical variability and time dynamics. The geographical analysis of the availability of the primary solar energy resource can improve our understanding of the potential PV contribution to the future energy and economic structures and thus contribute to setting up eective policies.

1 The other three factors being the cost per unit or installed peak power (/kWp), the lifetime, and the operational cost including capital cost.


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The geographical dependency and distributed nature of solar electricity generation impose questions that require specic location-dependent answers. Although various databases and estimation tools are available worldwide (European Solar Radiation Atlas, Meteonorm, NASA SSE, SODA, Satel-Light, etc.; see Wald, 2006), none of them fully matched our needs: open data and software architecture; climatic and geographic data at higher spatial resolution, integrated into a GIS system; map-based interface providing easy-understandable information also for non-professionals. This has led to the development of the Photovoltaic Geographic Information System (PVGIS) at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission since the year 2001. PVGIS combines the long-term expertise from laboratory research, monitoring and testing with geographical knowledge. It is used as a research tool for the performance assessment of PV technology in geographical regions, and as a support system for policy-making in the European Union. The web interface was developed to provide interactive access to the data, maps and tools to other research and education institutes, decision-makers, PV professionals and system owners as well as to the general public. The aim of this paper is to provide an analysis of national and regional dierences of solar electricity generation from photovoltaic systems in the 25 member states, and 5 candidate countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey) of the European Union (abbreviated as EU25+5). We take into account PV systems with at modules mounted in horizontal, vertical and optimally tilted position. The theoretical potential is compared to what can be achieved in the short-term, assuming the current PV growth. Rather than focusing on primary solar radiation, we have looked at the generated kilowatt-hours from each kilowatt-peak (kWp) of a typical PV system, as this information can be directly used in economic and environmental assessments. Although this analysis focuses on the European Union countries, the data and maps cover the whole European subcontinent and the neighbouring regions. 2. Data and methodology 2.1. European solar radiation database in PVGIS The solar radiation database for the European subcontinent was developed using the solar radiation model u ri and Hoerka, 2004) and dedicated programs r.sun (S integrated into the GIS software GRASS (Neteler and Mitasova, 2002; GRASS, 2006). The r.sun algorithms are based on equations published in the European Solar Radiation Atlas (ESRA, 2000). The model estimates beam, diffuse and reected components of the clear-sky and real-sky

global irradiance/irradiation for horizontal or inclined surfaces. The main input parameters to the model were solar radiation from 566 ground meteorological stations together with the ratio of diuse to global radiation from the same set of stations (source: ESRA, 2000), the Linke atmospheric turbidity (Remund et al., 2003) and a digital elevation model (DEM) derived from SRTM-30 data (SRTM, 2006). The models account for sky obstruction (shadowing) by local terrain features, calculated from the DEM. The spatial resolution of the resulting grid data layers is 1 km 1 km. The primary database represents the period 19811990 and it contains 12 monthly averages and the yearly average of the following climatic parameters: daily global irradiation on a horizontal surface; ratio of diuse to global horizontal irradiation; clear-sky index (characterizes cloudiness of the sky). The 1-km grid resolution is determined by incorporation of the DEM data, and therefore the detailed structure of the terrain features (elevation and shadowing) is well represented in the solar radiation data. On the other hand, the limited number of available ground measurements and the information content and accuracy of the Linke turbidity factor do not represent the atmospheric conditions in the same level of spatial detail. The accuracy of the modelled values in the database was evaluated against the input meteorological data used in the computation. Comparing the yearly averages of the daily global horizontal irradiation, the mean bias error (MBE) is 8.9 Wh/m2 (0.3%) and the root mean square error (RMSE) is 118 Wh/m2 (3.7%) for the whole dataset. This analysis provides information about the errors only in locations for which the measurements are known. Therefore a cross-validation was applied (using the same input meteorological data) to estimate the predictive accuracy of the model that better describes the distribution of errors further from the locations with known measurements. The average yearly MBE from cross-validation is smaller: 1.1 Wh/m2 (0.03%), but the range of monthly averages of MBE is higher from 2.5 Wh/m2 in January to 4.4 Wh/m2 in August. The cross-validation RMSE is higher, and the yearly average is 146 Wh/m2 (4.5%). The PVGIS method simulating irradiation for inclined planes has been compared with measurements at the Ispra meteorological station by Kenny et al. (2006). This resulted in an annual overestimation by PVGIS by 3.2%, one of the reasons being partial shadowing of measured values by nearby buildings and trees. The details of the solar radiation model and computational approach can be consulted in our previous works u u ri and Hoerka, 2004; S ri et al., 2005). (S The primary data (representing average values of the period 19811990) are used in combination with developed tools for calculation of various products that are related to solar electricity generation, such as:

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global irradiation for horizontal and inclined surfaces; clear-sky and average real-sky daily prole of irradiances (considering also terrain shadowing); average beam, diuse and reected components of the global radiation; average electricity generation from xed and tracking PV systems; optimum inclination and orientation of xed PV modules to maximize energy yields; electricity output of PV systems considering also ambient temperature. 2.2. Estimation of solar electricity potential The PVGIS solar radiation database was used for an assessment of the potential solar electricity generation by PV modules mounted at horizontal, vertical and optimal inclination. Horizontal mounting is not often used except when building integration considerations demand it. However, it is useful as a baseline estimate, also because many sources of radiation data only provide the irradiation on a horizontal plane. Comparing the results from horizontal mounting with those of optimal and vertical mounting will aid in using the present results to make estimates for inclined mountings when using dierent data sets giving only horizontal irradiation. We have considered the most widespread grid-connected PV technology, installed within the existing building infrastructure in residential areas. The annual total of electricity generated from a PV system, E (kWh), was calculated using the following equation: E P k PRG; 1

0.75 and this value is assumed in our further considerations. A part of the analysis was focused on urban residential areas where most people live. To extract data for residential areas, the estimated solar electricity potential was overlaid with the CORINE Land Cover (CLC90) database (Heymann et al., 1994), namely with class 11 (urban fabric, i.e. we did not consider other urban land such as industrial and commercial sites, transport infrastructure, city parks, etc.). The CLC90 database is available at 100-metres grid resolution for most of the EU25+5 countries online (EEA, 2006). However, in Sweden, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey the CLC90 data are not available and we had to use the less accurate urban boundaries excerpted from maps and from the Global Land Cover 2000 database (see GLC2000, 2006). These data do not distinguish between residential and non-residential zones in settlements. In regional planning and decision making, the information is analyzed at the level of administrative boundaries. Administrative boundaries (according to Eurostat NUTS, level 3) were therefore used to synthesize PV estimations and to calculate statistics (average, minimum, maximum, probability distribution) at the level of individual countries and their regions. 3. Results The results reveal signicant national and regional differences within the 25 EU member states, and 5 candidate countries, determined by latitude, continentality, terrain and local climatic variations. To outline geographic regions of solar electricity production, we rst assume horizontally-mounted PV modules. Inclining the PV modules southwards to an optimum angle maximises yearly energy yields and this is the most typical way how PV modules are installed. On the other hand, PV is also used as a building integrated material (cladding) on facades of buildings. Therefore we have compared the energy gains and losses for PV modules inclined at the optimum angle and vertically. The two maps in Fig. 1 present the potential energy production for each installed kWp of a PV system with modules mounted horizontally, and at optimum angle (calculated from Eq. (1)). The regional data assuming all three types of mounting are further summarized to compare the potential between the EU25+5 countries as well as between regions within each country (Fig. 2). The countries are sorted in descending order according to the national averages. The extremes of the dash line show the minimum and maximum values within each country. Our aim was to focus on areas where people live and where PV is mostly installed. Therefore the upper and lower edges of the boxes delineate 5% minimum and 95% maximum occurrence probability of power production in urban residential areas. These limits for populated areas are taken out to eliminate the most extreme values from the analysis (mainly in high mountains and deep valleys).

where Pk is the unit peak power (assumed to be 1 kWp in our calculation), PR is the system performance ratio, and G is the yearly sum of global irradiation on a horizontal, vertical or inclined plane of the PV module (kWh/m2). The size of PV systems (installed peak power, Pk) is typically measured in watt-peak (Wp) and it characterizes the nominal power output of the PV modules at Standard Test Conditions (STC; see IEC/TS 61836, 1997), i.e. when the irradiance in the plane of the PV modules is 1000 W/m2 and the temperature of the modules is 25C. The advantage of using this measure is that it does not require knowledge of the PV conversion eciency or the module area. In theory the PR in Eq. (1) would equal 1 for a system operating constantly with the STC eciency. In practice, the output of a PV system is lower than the peak power, even at an irradiance of 1000 W/m2. One reason is the operating temperature that is typically higher than 25 C and which tends to lower the PV eciency. The other factors are losses due to angular and spectral variation, and system losses in inverters and cables. The ratio between the actual output and the nominal output is therefore expressed by a gross measure, the performance ratio PR (see IEC 61724, 1998). A typical value for a roof-mounted system with modules from mono- or polycrystalline silicon is around


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Fig. 1. Yearly sum of electricity generation from a 1 kWp PV conguration with modules: (a) at horizontal position; (b) optimally inclined, to maximise yearly energy yield (kWh/kWp).

3.1. PV modules mounted horizontally The yearly sum of the electricity generated for each kWp of PV with horizontal modules in EU25+5 countries ranges from about 470 up to 1390 kWh (Fig. 2a). The lower limit is strongly determined by the shadowing eect of terrain in mountains for unshadowed locations the yearly sums do not go below 530 kWh/kWp in Northern

Scandinavia. Taking into account only populated areas, the range of the solar electricity potential is much narrower 630 kWh/kWp in the Northern Finland up to 1330 kWh/ kWp in Malta. In other words comparing only areas where people live the same PV system with horizontal modules will produce about 2.1-times more electrical energy in Malta than in the extreme North of Finland. However, there are large geographical dierences

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Fig. 2. Yearly sum of the electricity generated by a typical 1 kWp PV system in the EU 25 Member States and 5 Candidate Countries (kWh/kWp) with modules mounted: (a) horizontally; (b) at the optimum angle; and (c) vertically. The solid line represents the countrys average value. The extremes of the dash lines show the minimum and maximum values in each country. The box plot depicts the 90% of occurrence of values in urban residential areas.


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and when focusing to the urban residential areas in the EU25+5 countries ve climatic regions can be identied. 1. It is obvious that the highest potential for solar electricity generation is in Portugal, and in the Mediterranean region with strong peaks in cloudless summer (Malta, Cyprus, most parts of Spain, Italy and Croatia, Southern France and Corsica, Greece and Southern Turkey). In this region in the urban residential areas, a typical crystalline silicon PV system generates annual electricity between 1100 and 1330 kWh per installed kWp. 2. Favourable climatic conditions are also found in the Northern parts of Spain, Italy, Croatia, in FYR of Macedonia, and around the Black Sea (Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey) with abundance of solar resource and PV potential in the range of 10001100 kWh/kWp per year. 3. Good conditions are found in France (except in the North) and also in most regions of Central Europe (Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia and Southern Germany) with more continental summers, where yearly generation usually falls into the range of 8001000 kWh/kWp. 4. Northwest Europe (Southern Ireland, England and Wales, North France and Germany, Benelux, and Denmark), Northern part of Central Europe (Poland, and most parts of the Czech Republic) and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) including South Sweden and Finland, have less favourable conditions. The diffuse radiation has a higher share and yearly generation is here expected to be mainly within the interval from 700 to 800 kWh/kWp. Due to long daylight in summer, the yearly sums of solar electricity generation in the Baltic region are almost the same as in the lower latitudes of Western Europe, where a more humid climate is strongly inuenced by the Atlantic Ocean.

5. From the point of view of solar electricity generation, the poorest regions in the European Union are in Scotland and the North Sweden and Finland, where yearly generation falls below 700 kWh per installed kWp. 3.2. PV modules mounted at optimum angle The main factors determining optimum inclination angle of the PV modules (Fig. 3) are the geographical latitude, share of diuse to global radiation, and in mountainous areas shadowing by local terrain features. In general, the optimum orientation of PV modules is due South in the Northern Hemisphere. However, in some areas the optimum orientation might be slightly oset towards East or West due to shadowing by local mountains. If considering populated areas only, the optimum mounting angle of the PV modules within Europe ranges from 28 in Western Peloponnesos (with a high concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere) to 47 in Northern Scandinavia. In large parts of Europe (mainly between latitudes from 4555), the latitudinal gradient is weak, the diuse component relatively high, and the optimum angle stays in the range of 3336, with some uctuation depending on regional climate. The optimum inclination of PV in mountains is more variable than in lowlands, as the energy yield strongly depends on local dynamics of cloudiness and terrain shadowing. This eect is noticeable for regions with high mountains, such as the Pyrenees, the Alps, Carpathians, and in Scandinavia. The extreme case of Sweden shows that in locations with strong terrain shadowing the module inclination close to horizontal provides best yields, due to the fact that very little direct sunlight reaches the modules,

Fig. 3. Optimum inclination angle for a South-facing PV module, i.e. the angle at which the module receives the largest amount of total yearly global irradiation (degrees). The solid line represents the countrys average value. The meaning of the lines and boxes in the plot is the same as in Fig. 2.

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and hence the optimum angle is very at or horizontal to capture as much diuse sunlight as possible. Inclining the PV modules southwards from horizontal to optimum angle increases the yearly electricity production in urban areas by 926%, i.e. to levels of 760 (in Scotland and Northern Scandinavia) up to 1510 kWh/kWp (in Malta and Portugal). The lowest relative contribution from the optimum inclination can be expected in Southern Greece (910%). In Cyprus, and most regions of Greece, Turkey, FYR of Macedonia, and Bulgaria this contribution does not exceed 12%. Optimum angle mounting in most of the EU25+5 states increases electricity production in the range of 1216%. The highest benet (above 16%) can obviously be reached in Scandinavia and Baltic countries. In absolute numbers (Fig. 2b), the most electricity can be generated in the Mediterranean islands, Portugal, in large parts of Spain, Southern France, and in the central and Southern regions of Italy, Greece, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, and Turkey (above 1200 kWh/kWp per year). On the opposite site is the Baltic region, Scandinavia, British Isles, but also parts of Central Europe, Northern France, and Benelux countries where the yearly yield goes below 900 kWh/kWp. In the rest of the EU the yearly yields are in the range of 9001200 kWh. 3.3. PV modules mounted on facades Compared to the optimum angle, PV modules mounted vertically have yearly yields from about 4233% less in Portugal, and in the Mediterranean and Black Sea zone (Fig. 2c). From these regions, in direction to Central and Northern Europe the dierence diminishes to about 28%. Lower dierences compared to the optimally inclined modules can be expected also in the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathians and Scandinavian mountains. In Southern Scandinavia, Eastern regions of the UK and Baltic states the yearly loss from vertical mounting of PV modules is smaller than 28%. In the Northern Sweden and Finland this dierence goes below 20%.

Due to the abundance of sunlight, the highest yields from vertically mounted PV modules are still found in Malta, Sicily, Southern regions of Spain, France, Turkey, and Portugal (above 900 kWh/kWp per year). In the rest of the Mediterranean region and in the Black Sea the yearly yields from 1 kWp system are in the range of 650 900 kWh with overlaps in France, FYR of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania, and countries of Central Europe. The electricity yields reduce to 650 kWh/kWp in the Czech Republic, Poland Germany, Benelux, British Isles, Baltic states and Scandinavia. Although the yields for vertical PV installation are smaller, one advantage is a better balanced seasonal prole (compare with Fig. 4). The vertically mounted PV modules, when mounted on buildings, can also contribute to savings on the conventional cladding material. 3.4. Seasonal variability The seasonal distribution of the solar resource in Europe is uneven and has to be considered for planning an o-grid system or in electricity grid management by the utilities once PV starts to become a signicant part of the electricity production. The typical PV system with modules mounted at the optimum angle produces 40% (in Spain) to 60% (in Finland) of the yearly electricity yield in just four summer months (May, June, July and August, i.e. one third of the year). The seasonal variability increases from South to North. While monthly averages of PV output may decrease from the yearly average in a range from 30% (Southeastern Spain) up to 100% (North from the Polar Circle) in winter, they increase in summer in a range from +20% (Southeastern Spain) up to +85% (Central Sweden). The seasonal variability is lower for vertically mounted modules, as can be seen in Fig. 4, providing an example of three cities Alicante (ES), Bratislava (SK) and Stockholm (SE). Fig. 5 aggregates the seasonal variation of monthly averages of PV electricity generation (modules mounted at the optimum angle) from the yearly average expressed by the relative standard deviation (%).

Fig. 4. Seasonal variation expressed by relative deviation of monthly averages of PV electricity generation from the yearly average for Alicante (ES), Bratislava (SK) and Stockholm (SE) for PV modules mounted: (a) horizontally; (b) at optimum angle, and (c) vertically. Values in the brackets express relative standard deviation (%).


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Fig. 5. Seasonal variation of monthly averages of PV electricity generation (modules mounted at the optimum angle) from the yearly average, expressed as relative standard deviation (%).

A similar variation can be observed within a day. Taking into consideration that daily electricity consumption peaks around noon, solar electricity can provide a signicant contribution to satisfying peak load demand and peak power shaping, such as those originating from the increasing demand of air-conditioning systems. 3.5. Regional dierences within countries Large geographical dierences can be observed not only at the continental level but also within countries. Fig. 6 indicates regional disparities in some countries that might inuence the national strategies for implementation of photovoltaic solar electricity. To make a comparison at the level of administrative territorial units, the regional averages of solar electricity yields for the urban residential areas were calculated. The calculation for optimallyinclined PV modules is assumed, as this is the most typical way how PV is mounted. The results demonstrate that the largest variability of PV electricity generation at the national level can be seen in France, Spain, and Italy. This is due to the geographical extent of the countries as well as transitions in their climates from the Atlantic (in the case of Spain and France) and the Alpine (in case of Italy) to the Mediterranean. The dierences between regions in solar electricity generation in France reach as much as 500 kWh/kWp (which is about 47% of the countrys average value), and in Italy 470 kWh/kWp (38% of the average value). Considerable NorthSouth dierences in PV output, within quite short

geographical distances, can be seen in Croatia and Turkey, by about 380 and 370 kWh, respectively (34% and 28%, respectively) per year from each installed kWp, and somewhat less in Greece 310 kWh and Portugal 220 kWh (25% and 16%, respectively). In Spain, the dierence in yearly solar electricity generation between the provinces Huelva and Asturias for a 1 kWp system with optimally-inclined modules can exceed 450 kWh from each installed kWp, and this represents almost 33% of the countrys average. As kWh are equivalent to Euro, for the end user this can create a considerable impact on investment decisions. The diversity of the regional solar electricity potential in countries such as FYR of Macedonia, Romania, Germany, and UK is smaller though not insignicant (the range is higher than 150 kWh/kWp). 3.6. Theoretical PV potential Today, PV electricity tends to come from a large number of small power generators that are distributed dominantly in the residential areas. In order to lay out the scope and extent of realistic generation potential in a given country one of the rst questions to address is, how much area has to be covered by PV modules to meet the full national electricity consumption? Using the baseline of 1 kWp system; this consists of PV modules with a total area of $9.5 m2; then dividing the total national consumption (IEA, 2004) by the yearly electricity yield of a 1 kWp system mounted at the optimum angle will give outline estima-

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Fig. 6. Regional dierences of solar electricity generation from 1 kWp system (modules mounted at the optimum angle) compared to the countrys average (kWh/kWp).

tions. The theoretical surface of the PV modules in each country depends on the electricity consumption and solar resource available and therefore it varies between 0.1% (Baltic states, Romania and Turkey) and 3.6% (Benelux states and Malta) of the countrys surface area (Fig. 7). On average, covering $0.6% of the EU25+5 territory by PV modules would theoretically satisfy its electricity consumption. This estimate is somewhat conservative; the latest PV module technologies have higher eciency, so the area covered per kWp is likely to decrease in the future. Furthermore, this calculation ignores cross-border electric-

ity trade (so for instance no allowance is made for Dutch or German electricity consumption being covered by PV in Spain). On the other hand, of course, the PV area does not translate directly into land area covered unless the PV modules are placed horizontally. From the geometrical point of view, the area of land needed for inclined modules should be less, but in practice this depends on the type of installation and the need to avoid modules shadowing each other. For comparison, using the CORINE Land Cover data, we have identied that in countries such as Estonia and

Fig. 7. Theoretical PV potential: surface of PV modules mounted at the optimum angle that would be needed to completely satisfy countrys electricity consumption (expressed as % of the countrys area). The dashed line represents the EU25+5 average 0.6%.


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Bulgaria this theoretical surface of PV modules corresponds to the current extent of land ll and mineral extraction sites. In countries such as Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Romania the theoretical PV surface is about twice that of existing land ll and mineral extraction sites. 3.7. Photovoltaic capacity needed to cover 1% of electricity consumption The average electricity generation of a typical 1 kWp PV conguration at the optimum angle was used to estimate the installed PV capacity that would be needed in each country of EU25+5 to provide 1% of the national electricity consumption (IEA, 2004).

The supply of 1% of national electricity consumption by solar electricity would require an installation of 0.1 m2 0.9 m2 of photovoltaics per capita (Fig. 8). Three countries fall outside this range due to exceptionally high consumption per capita. This dimension of less than 1 m2 corresponds to what we regularly see installed on roofs, facades and balconies in the form of TV satellite dishes. Interestingly, in many countries the installation of these TV reception dishes is directly subsidised by national governments. The indicated installed capacity for 1% of share by PV is shown in Fig. 9. The closest to the PV share of 1% in Europe is Germany, where at the end of year 2005, the installed PV capacity reached 1537 MWp (Eurobserver,

Fig. 8. Surface of the modules (m2) per capita needed to satisfy 1% of the national electricity consumption. For comparison, the dashed line represents a surface of a TV satellite dish with diameter 0.85 m.

Fig. 9. PV capacity needed to satisfy 1% of countrys electricity consumption (MWp). For comparison, the small bars in the upper right represent the yearly world production of PV cells (MWp) in period 20002005 (Source: Eurobserver, 2006).

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2006), which covers $0.25% of the electricity consumption in Germany. 4. Discussion and conclusions Grid-connected PV in Europe is still dependent on market support programmes. The success of individual national initiatives demonstrates how tailored programs can drive the long-term growth of solar electricity. However, many EU countries still do not consider photovoltaic solar electricity as a key future technology to be addressed by policies. This may be due to the lack of knowledge of the solar electricity generation potential. This is despite the fact that in many regions of Europe the solar energy resource is more generous than in Germany; a country which, thanks in part to the contribution from its Renewable Energy Act, has become a leading world player in a rapidly expanding market. Within our previous activities we have developed a mapbased system to provide overall information in order to clearly and unambiguously present the European-wide situation for solar electricity generation and to provide an objective analysis of what current PV technology oers to Europe. In this paper we have focused on the EU member states and candidate countries, as development of renewable-energies policies is high on the political agenda there. Our results contribute to understanding the spatial and temporal complexity the solar electricity generation on a continental scale where policy-making needs to take into account geographical variability. Further development of the PVGIS system is under way along two parallel lines: Implementing a new solar resource database that is derived from a 20-years series of Meteosat satellite images. This will provide higher regional accuracy and better statistics; Incorporation of technological and socio-economic parameters to the database that will enable analyses of economic, technological and environmental aspects, such as cost of PV energy generation, energy payback time, and avoidance of CO2 emissions. PVGIS is primarily meant to be an in-house decision support system. However, to provide an access to the database and estimations to professionals and the general public, we have developed web-based interactive applications. Any location in Europe can be chosen by browsing and clicking on a map, choosing a country and city from a list, or by directly setting latitude/longitude values. The

monthly and yearly values are displayed in a separate window. For a selected module inclination and orientation the user can get also an average daily prole of clear-sky and real-sky irradiances for a chosen month. The web applications and supporting documentation can be accessed at References
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