Geography

Photovoltaic solar electricity potential in Europe Solar systems can be efficiently operated on nearly all latitudes

Stereotypical attitude to solar energy may still be met in the society. Many people still are sure that solar systems’ performance is decent only in Sahara desert and perhaps in the Mediterranean. This may be a surprise for many, but it is a well-established fact – solar systems can work efficiently even in the North.

Even in the Nordic countries there is exposure to solar radiation sufficient enough to ensure essential saving on heating, hot water and electricity. It should also be kept in mind that in summer, when solar systems work at their best, days are longer in the North. Besides, PV panels suffer a decrease in efficiency at high temperatures so that addition cooling systems are sometimes installed. This drawback is alleviated on the northern latitudes.

The most advanced solar markets in Europe are located in Germany and Austria, and these countries are not the sunniest ones. Moreover, solar systems are very popular in Scandinavian countries, and are used up to the Arctic Circle and beyond. At the same time, regions with much more favorable geographic location (for example, Southern Italy) fall behind in solar technology advances. Various factors, such as awareness, social support (financial, legal campaigns) and quality of available products and services are at least as important as a local climate.

It is also noteworthy that using of solar thermal collectors has become more popular in the Baltic Region due to higher efficiency and, consequently, economy.