An incredible 7,040 megawatts of solar was installed in Europe during just the 4th quarter of 2011, according to www.solarbuzz.com. By contrast Asia installed 6,000 megawatts and the USA built about 2,000 megawatts in the entire 2011. Europe, the largest solar market in the world, installed 18% more solar in 2011 than in the previous record year of 2010.
Some folks for a couple years have pointed to declining subsidies in Germany or elsewhere and predicted the collapse of Europe's solar market. Sharply falling solar prices have proved such predictions wrong, since the price reductions have typically exceeded any cuts in subsidies. For example, module prices dropped 40% in Europe during 2011 alone.
Solarbuzz writes: "As incentive tariffs follow prices downward, less public funding is needed to build significant country markets. In additions, as PV becomes more competitive with retail electricity prices, investors become less dependent on public funding schemes for viable economics. As a result, new markets are emerging, particularly in East and Southeast Europe."
The Ukraine built two 100 MW solar plants in 2011, while Serbia is building two 150 MW plants and a 1,000 MW monster. European solar used to be just Spain and Germany and it used to be totally dependent on large subsidies.
Today solar is booming all across Europe and needs little or no subsidy in some countries. While Europe has been in economic crisis for nearly 4 years, as austerity economics worsens its problems, the European solar market is booming, basking in sunshine.